Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES, March 30 — Many aspects caught my attention during the recent visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba between March 26 and 28.
I was impressed by the warm welcome given to him by the people, who spontaneously came out to greet him along the route from Antonio Maceo Airport to his destination in the city of Santiago de Cuba, and two days later in his farewell in Havana en route to Jose Marti Airport.
I was impressed by the massive attendance at the Masses given at the Antonio Maceo Revolution Square in Santiago and at the Jose Marti Square in Havana, as people listened in a disciplined and respectful manner to the liturgies that he led.
The Pope was visibly pleased by so many tokens of affection and respect from believers, non-believers, as well as the nation’s political authorities. This included President Raul Castro Ruz, who came to welcome him at the airport, where the Pontiff was received with Head-of-State honors, and later greeted warmly after each of the Masses.
Other aspects that caught my attention were the similarities in the ideas raised by Raul Castro and the Pope in their welcoming and farewell speeches.
As we all know, the Holy See and the Cuban Revolution have always agreed on the need to globalize solidarity – and on that issue, Cuba has much to show. As President Raul Castro said in his speech:
“Only as an example of what could be done if solidarity prevailed, I should mention that over the last decade — with the help of Cuba — tens of thousands of youths from other countries have been trained as physicians, 2.2 million low-income people have improved or recovered their eyesight, and 5.8 million people have learned to read and write. I can assure you that, within our modest means, our international cooperation will continue.
“Instead of solidarity, what has become generalized is a systemic crisis caused by irrational consumption in the affluent societies. A fraction of the population accumulates enormous wealth while the numbers of the poor, the hungry, the unattended sick and the homeless grow.”
He might have added that thousands of lives are saved by Cuban doctors in countries where medical teams have gone wherever natural disasters have hit, such as in Haiti, to cite just one of many examples.
Immediately afterwards, Pope Benedict XVI said in his greetings speech:
“Many parts of the world are currently experiencing moments of economic hardship, where more than a few find themselves in places of deep spiritual and moral crises. These have left people in a vacuum of values ??and unprotected from the greed and selfishness of certain powers that do not take into account the authentic good of people and families.
“We can no longer continue in the same cultural and moral direction that has caused the tragic circumstances that so many people are experiencing. Instead, real progress needs an ethic that places the human being at the center and takes into special account their most genuine demands in the spiritual and religious dimensions.”
All of the views expressed by the Holy Father in that paragraph coincide with the ideas and efforts of the Cuban government, which — if it has not been able to realize to their fullness — it has been precisely because of the obstacles imposed by the greed and selfishness of those powers referred to by the Pope.
He also stated that we can no longer continue in the same cultural and moral direction that caused the crisis. That fully agrees with the ideas that have long been raised by the Cuban government: “Neoliberalism has failed and we cannot continue down that road.”
In fact, in my opinion the neoliberal capitalist system has led to a crisis with no solution unless profound changes are made, but those would affect major interests and therefore will be difficult to carry out.
The desire expressed by the Holy Father, in greeting the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz (which took place following the Mass in Revolution Square in Havana), also shows the agreement between the ideas and goals the Cuban Revolution and the Catholic Church.
Both have expressed their desires for peace, love, justice, solidarity, the attachment to truth, and their rejection of war, selfishness, greed and lies.
I could cite many more points of agreement, but space doesn’t allow me.
Fidel Castro himself has said that although he isn’t religious, he fully agrees with the social doctrine of the religion.
In other words, we must place human beings at the center of all concerns, banish egotism and ambition, and fight for all of us to be equal. This means working “with all and for the good of all,” as was desired by our national hero, Jose Marti.