Pope Points to Social Doctrine as a Guide for Cuba

In a Message Sent to Nation's Catholic Social Week

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the Church's social doctrine could serve as a guide for Cuba's future.



The Pope made that suggestion in a message sent on the occasion of the country's 9th Catholic Social Week, held in Camaguey.

The event, organized by the National Commission of Justice and Peace, ended Sunday. Its theme was "Truth, Justice, Love and Freedom: Foundations of Peace According to 'Pacem in Terris,'" the 1963 encyclical on establishing universal peace.

John Paul II's message, sent on his behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, appealed to "all the sons and daughters of the Church in Cuba for a renewed and profound commitment to study, assume and put into practice" the "social Gospel."

In light of Cuba's four decades of Communist government, the Holy Father suggested "fostering the presentation of Christian social thought in keeping with the fundamental features of the Cuban people's identity, which can be communicated in language that is comprehensible to its fellow citizens, and thus illuminate human life and the social reality."

"Without a doubt, this will foster a conversion and style of social relations based on respect, and the defense and promotion of the dignity and inherent rights of every human person," the papal message stated.

"It is necessary to foment attitudes more than words, gestures and projects of justice and peace" so that Cubans may "be the protagonists of their own personal and national history," stimulating "initiatives that can configure a new society," the message added.

The message was read in the cathedral of Camaguey by Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio in Cuba.

Referring specifically to the Social Week, the text states: "It is the duty and right of each citizen to make efforts to find, among all, a peaceful way out of the crisis.

"But it is likewise a very special duty of lay Christians, who have as an exigency of their vocation and mission within the Church, to be light, salt and ferment in the transformation of the society in which they live and which they serve from the truth and freedom of the children of God."

Addressing in a special way the difficult situation the Caribbean island nation faces, the Pope affirmed: "There is an inseparable relationship between the commitment to peace and respect for the truth."

"Honesty in giving information, impartiality of the juridical systems, and transparency in democratic procedures," he said, "give to citizens a sense of security, willingness to resolve controversies with peaceful means and the will for loyal and constructive agreement which are the real premises of a lasting peace."

The Holy Father hoped that the Social Week would serve as a "cultural laboratory … so that Catholics of this beloved country will be able to make the proper Christian contribution to the future of Cuba."

Among those attending the Catholic Social Week was Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who spoke on the "Mission of the Church in the Peaceful Solution of Conflicts."