God Walks With All Cubans, Says Papal Message

On 20th Anniversary of National Ecclesial Meeting

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has written a message to Cubans, believers and nonbelievers alike, to assure them that God walks by their side.



The Pope expressed this in a message sent to Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Cuban National Ecclesial Meeting.

The 1986 meeting updated the conclusions of the Second Vatican Council in the context of the country, giving a strong evangelizing impetus to that ecclesial community living in a Communist setting.

In his message to Cardinal Ortega, president of the Cuban bishops\' conference, the Holy Father encouraged an analysis of the past 20 years of the history of the Church in the island nation, whose most symbolic moment was Pope John Paul II\'s visit in January 1998.

\"When on this anniversary you reflect on what you experienced, you will have to approach this reality as a journey of promises and salvation, which you must undertake with careful and compassionate steps, to discover in the experience the signs and indications of the living God who walks with you,\" wrote Benedict XVI.

\"Yes, he walks with all who live on earth, believers and nonbelievers, those who are near and those who are far, those who sow and those who scatter, because all are invited to the celebration of life that the Father gives us,\" he added.

Opening

Benedict XVI recalled the words of John Paul II during the latter\'s 1998 visit: \"May Cuba open to the world and the world open to Cuba.\"

\"An opening, which calls for examining first how to open the heart and understanding to the things of God, how those living together must open to one another, believing and trusting each other, even if there are differences in the way of thinking or beliefs and, finally, at the same time, how to be open to the world ambit, with the challenges of its possibilities and difficulties,\" Benedict XVI indicated.

\"Only doing so from God\'s gaze, a loving look, will one discover the truth of every person, of every group, and of those who live on the same earth,\" the Pope stated in his message.

On this journey, much help will come from the \"prayer of each Christian, in the silence and humility of daily work, in faithfulness to the faith professed, in the implicit or explicit proclamation of the Gospel,\" he clarified.

The Holy Father concluded: \"And of much help also will be the profound love of the majority of Cubans for the Mother of Charity of Cobre, patroness of that land for such a long time, who accompanies its dwellers with a mother\'s tenderness.\"