Written for Ariëns Catholic Students by Arturo Perez Rivera.
March 27, 2012 | Since the announcement of His Holiness in the Vatican on December of last year, Mexicans and Cubans have been joyfully waiting for Pope Benedict’s first visit to their land, which is full of faith in Christ and love for its Roman Catholic Church. Now the wait is over, and the Pope has come, not just to Mexico and Cuba, but to the entire Latin America as a “pilgrim of faith, hope and charity”. The Mexicans warmly welcomed the Pope this past Friday, and showed him such a great affection during his stay, that he “now understands why blessed John Paul II felt like a Mexican pope”!
There is no doubt that the sunny weather and the delicious tropical fruits would have enchanted the Pope with Latin America. However, it was the people who stole the Pope’s heart. Crowds and crowds of people cheering along the way, singing traditional songs and participating in all the activities showed the high esteem that the Mexicans, and the Latin Americans represented in them, have towards not only the vicar of Christ, but to the Catholic faith in general. Undoubtedly, Pope Benedict XVI grew stronger affection towards our people, from kids to governors, in this journey.
Nevertheless, the 23rd apostolic journey of the Pope was more than a nice tour in Mexico and Cuba. This journey comes as a sign of hope and love from God to many of us Latin Americans, living there or abroad. In our part of the world, specially Mexico and Central America, violence and criminality have harden our hearts to such an extent, that when reading about a murder in the daily newspaper, there is no astonishment or shock once so ever about the lost of a human life, and it is sometimes consider ‘normal’. The Pope is conscious about this terrible situation, and came with the purpose of praying and exhorting us to know that the trust in God is able to transform the unpleasant events into a life with purpose and future. All his words and homilies were in this spirit, and with the entire Latin American episcopate, he gave a call for life and for true love to God and fellow men.
Now the Pope is in Cuba, where he will experience the kindness of Cuban people living in the island and also from those that came back from the USA and other places nearby. Although a communist and less faithful country, Cuba receives a Successor of Peter for the second time in the last decades. Many hope that with this visit on the 400th anniversary of the “Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre”, the Cuban government will be more opened to dialogue, especially about religious freedom. Following the same line of thought as in Mexico, the Pope assured that “real progress can only come from ethics that are centered on the human being and his or her most important needs” on his first speech in Cuban soil. He also motivated Cubans to fight with “weapons of peace, forgiveness and understanding” to build a new and open society.
In the following days, the Pope will follow a similar agenda as in Mexico, and depart on Wednesday afternoon back to Rome. Certainly the Pope will leave a big imprint in the minds of all Mexicans and Cubans with his visit, but most important of all, he will leave a message and reminder of hope in a God that loves mankind. Along with our Mexican and Cuban brothers and sisters, all our Latin American hearts fill with joy with his blessings.