The Pope in Cuba
Jubilee 2000 Search

The signs of hope: peoples


From the Discourse at the Encounter with the Bishops in the Archbishopric in Havana. 25 January 1998
My Pastoral Visit is taking place at a very special moment in the life of the whole Church: the preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. As Pastors of this portion of the pilgrim People of God in Cuba you share in the spirit of this preparation, and through your Global Pastoral Plan you have encouraged every community to live «that new springtime of Christian life which will be revealed by the Great Jubilee, if Christians are docile to the action of the Holy Spirit» (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, n.18). May the Global Pastoral Plan give continuity to my visit and to an experience of the Church as incarnational, participatory and prophetic as she strives to be at the service of the integral promotion of all Cubans. All of this requires an adequate formation which - as you have said - «should restore man as a person in his human, ethical, civic and religious values and enable him to fulfil his mission in the Church and in society» (II ENEC, Memorial, p.38). This requires "the creation and the renewal of Dioceses, parishes and small communities which can foster participation and co-responsibility, and which can live out, in solidarity and service, their mission of evangelisation" (ibid.).

From the Message to the Cuban youth. 23 January 1998
Dear young people, the Church trusts in you and she is counting on you. Inspired by the lives of the saints and other witnesses to the Gospel, and guided by the pastoral concern of your Bishops, help one another to grow stronger in faith and to be apostles of the Year 2000. Show the world that Christ is inviting us to share his joy, and that true happiness lies in giving ourselves in love to our brothers and sisters. May the Lord continue to bestow his abundant gifts of peace and enthusiasm upon all the young sons and daughters of the beloved Cuban nation. This is the Pope's great hope and desire for you. I cordially bless you all.

From the Angelus on 25 January 1998
Today marks the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The desire to achieve full communion among all believers in Christ is always present in the Church as she continues on her pilgrim way, and is ever more pressing during this year dedicated to the Holy Spirit as we prepare for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Harmony and unity - the object of the Church's hope and, consequently, of humanity's hope as well - are still far off; nonetheless they constitute a gift of the Holy Spirit which we must untiringly seek.

From the Homily at the Holy Mass celebrated in José Martì Square in Havana. 25 January 1998
The ideological and economic systems succeeding one another in the last two centuries have often encouraged conflict as a method, since their programmes contained the seeds of opposition and disunity. The fact profoundly affected their understanding of man and his relations with others. Some of these systems also presumed to relegate religion to the merely private sphere, stripping it of any social influence or importance. In this regard, it is helpful to recall that a modern State cannot make atheism of religion one of its political ordinances. The State, while distancing itself from all extremes of fanaticism or secularism, should encourage a harmonious social climate and a suitable legislation which enables every person and every religious confession to live their faith freely, to express that faith in the context of public life and to count on adequate resources and opportunities to bring its spiritual, moral and civic benefits to bear on the life of the nation.
On the other hand, various places are witnessing the resurgence of a certain capitalist neoliberalism which subordinates the human person to blind market forces and conditions the development of peoples on those forces. From its centres of power, such neoliberalism often places unbearable burdens upon less favoured countries. Hence, at times, unsustainable economic programmes are imposed on nations as a condition for further assistance. In the international community, we thus see a small number of countries growing exceedingly rich at the cost of the increasing impoverishment of a great number of other countries; as a result the wealthy grow even wealthier, while the poor grow even poorer.

From the Farewell discourse at the airport in Havana (25 January 1998)
As Successor of the Apostle Peter and following the Lord's command, I have come as a messenger of truth and hope, to confirm you in faith and to leave you a message of peace and reconciliation in Christ. Therefore I encourage you to continue to walk together, inspired by the highest moral principles, so that the vitality which characterises this noble people will produce abundant fruits of well-being and of spiritual and material prosperity for the benefit of everyone.
Before leaving this capital city, I wish to bid an emotional farewell to all the sons and daughters of this nation: to those who live in the city and in the countryside; to the children, the young people and the elderly; to the families and each individual person. I am confident that they will continue to persevere and promote the most genuine values of the Cuban heart. Faithful to the heritage received from your forebears and despite difficulties, the Cuban spirit must ever show its trust in God, its Christian faith, its ties to the Church, its love for the culture and traditions of the homeland, its vocation to justice and freedom. In the process of doing precisely this, all Cubans are called to contribute to the common good in a climate of mutual respect and with a profound sense of solidarity.
In our day, no nation can live in isolation. The Cuban people therefore cannot be denied the contacts with other peoples necessary for economic, social and cultural development, especially when the imposed isolation strikes the population indiscriminately, making it ever more difficult for the weakest to enjoy the bare essentials of decent living, things such as food, health and education. All can and should take practical steps to bring about changes in this regard. May nations, and especially those which share the same Christian heritage and the same language, work effectively to extend the benefits of unity and harmony, to join efforts and overcome obstacles so that the Cuban people, as the active agents of their own history, may maintain international relations which promote the common good. In this way they will be helped to overcome the suffering caused by material and moral poverty, the roots of which may be found, among other things, in unjust inequalities, in limitations to fundamental freedoms, in depersonalisation and the discouragement of individuals, and in oppressive economic measures - unjust and ethically acceptable - imposed from outside the country.