Only a few flight hours separate Pope Francis and Cuba. A significant journey to a country, that at present, more than ever, shows two faces. On the one hand, there is the new course inaugurated by Raùl Castro which culminated in the improvement of the relations with US – that took place also due to the intervention of the Vatican – on the other hand, there is the communist regime from which many desperate people are still fleeing, in search of the American coast. And let us not forget the poverty rate among the largest part of the local population. Two faces of the same coin, that the Pontiff is going to experience directly and to which he is going to dedicate his reflections. The role Bergoglio played in the re-opening of the relations between US and Cuba was of primary importance. There is still much work to be done. It is not enough to loose the embargo imposed by Wanshington. For the good of Cuba, commercial relations must be reactivated.
”The Pope will spend a few words in favour of the removal of the embargo and will continue to encourage them”, explained Mons. Angelo Becciu, the substitute of Vatican’s State Secretary in an interview for TV2000. The President of the United States, Obama, is already determined and now everyone is expecting the – hopefully positive – vote of the Congress. For 50 years Cubans have been suffering because of those measures and it is impossible to go on the same way. The Holy See has always expressed its disapproval of the embargo, both with regard to Cuba and to all other countries, because those who suffer the consequences are always the citizens, especially the poor. Hence, the time has come to remove this prohibition that generates difficulties for the Cuban population which has suffered from those limitations for too long. Mons. Becciu revealed also some of the backstage details of the historic pact between US and Cuba. They came here, to the State Secretary Office, and signed the documents in the presence of the State Secretary as if the latter guaranteed the word given by the two of them, said the former Cuban nuncio. The Pope bewitched both the Cuban and the American delegations, considering that it is them ”who asked the Pontiff to become warrant of their desire to talk, to dialogue and meet each other.
Particularly significant is going to be the announced meeting between the Pope and Fidel Castro, after the summit held in Vatican with his brother Raùl. The first Pontiff who had a face-to-face meeting with the Lìder Màximo on the Cuban soil was John Paul II, another tireless apostle of peace. Although that last meeting did not have any effects on the relations with US, it improved the life conditions of the Catholics on the island. Who obtained, for instance, the acknowledgment of Christmas as a civil festivity. Afterwards, in 2012, when arrived Benedict XVI, Raùl Castro who in the meantime succeeded Fidel, approved the celebration of the Good Friday by the faithful. Bergoglio will have to deal with a regime that is already softer, as it were, with the Church, but which has still much work to do before recognizing the rights of its citizens. A topic, that Pope Francis is likely to discuss with the Cuban authorities. To do so, he can rely on the good relationship with Raùl whom he met at the Vatican not so long ago. Raùl expressed his enthusiasm about Bergoglio and said he was ready to embrace Catholicism again. The Pope is a good scholar and feels scrupulous about doing things properly – told Becciu – I can tell you that he spent the whole summer preparing this journey. He considered the speeches one after another, prepared, evaluated, discussed, corrected, and made a revision of them for several times. Moreover, he showed consistency and diligence also in taking English classes. An unmistakable sign of how the Pope felt the importance of this appointment.
In the meanwhile, Cuba is preparing for the event. In the capital, days ago were placed large welcoming posters with colourful images of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. And many roads and avenidas, along with the Cathedral square, were at the centre of works of decoration. Even thoungh the detailed itinerary has not been revealed yet, it is certain that the papal procession, after the landing, will cover 12 kilometres of roads from the airport to some of the best-known points in the city, among which there will be also the Revolution Square: the place where on Sunday Bergoglio will hold Mass in front of the gigantic images of Camilo Cienfuego and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. On the occasion of the visit, in the square was also set up a giant sheet with the image of Christ, that covers the facade of the “Biblioteca Nacional”. A warm welcome with which the regime will try to show the Cuban “new deal”. But which, inevitably, raises some questions: Are we really witnessing a new a historical phase? And if this is the case, why do so many people still escaping from the island? It is possible to imagine a renewed Cuba where the power continues to be detained by the Castro brothers? Questions to which, perhaps, only the visit of Holy Father will be able to give an answer.