Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bertone's Cuban Revolution

While this week marks the 10th anniversary of John Paul II's pilgrimage to Cuba, its main commemoration will come next month as the "Vice-Pope" continues his goodwill travels in his Boss' stead and retraces Papa Wojtyla's footsteps:
"This is a visit, thanks be to God, highly awaited by the Cuban government, its authorities, which shows great willingness to facilitate everything needed (for the visit) and fulfill our expectations," Bishop Hernandez said.

He added that "the first expectation is to continue the confirmation in the faith" that was the fruit of Pope John Paul's visit. He said the goal of the 1998 visit "was to confirm this church in the faith, and that was accomplished very well."

Such confirmation "means authenticating the long, sometimes difficult process that this church has gone through, confirm the ways in which the church has been able to face difficulties without confrontations that would complicate, impede or close off dialogue (with the government), allowing the church to maintain its identity and its purpose," he said.

Bishop Hernandez said the visit from the Vatican secretary of state "follows the same line of continuity" and that Cardinal Bertone "will be awaited and received for what he is, an important person in the church hierarchy."

This will be Cardinal Bertone's second visit to the island since November 2005. While the agenda for the trip has yet to be finalized, it will include meetings with Cuban government officials, church leaders, and possibly the island nation's acting president, Raul Castro, who has led the country since his brother, Fidel Castro, delegated power to him 18 months ago when he was hospitalized with a severe intestinal illness.

Among the first things on the cardinal's tentative schedule are meetings with the Cuban bishops, another with religious, and a visit to the Diocese of Santa Clara, in the center of the island, where Cardinal Bertone will celebrate Mass in the cathedral and dedicate a monument to the late pope.

He will then travel to the Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba on the far eastern side of the island, where he will pray the rosary in the basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, the island's patron saint, and attend a youth rally.

He also will visit the nearby Diocese of Guantanamo-Baracoa, created by Pope John Paul, and bless the new diocesan offices.

On his return to the Cuban capital, he will speak at the University of Havana, and he may visit the Latin American School of Medicine and San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary. Bishop Hernandez said Cardinal Bertone will not visit the Archdiocese of Camaguey because of a lack of time.

In the 10 years since Pope John Paul's trip, the Catholic Church has seen slow but steady improvement in its relations with Cuba's communist government, although church officials say they still need greater access to state-run media and would like a church role in education.
Meanwhile, the Revolution continues at home.

This morning, B16 named a top-ranking confrere of Bertone's, Brazilian Salesian Fr Tarcisio Scaramussa, as an auxiliary bishop of Sao Paulo, Latin America's largest archdiocese. Since 2002, the 57 year-old bishop-elect -- a theologian by training -- has served in Rome as a general counselor of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

Over 20 of the community's members have been raised to the episcopacy in the last two years, both in its traditional hub of Latin America and newer outposts including Slovenia, Angola, Australia and India. Benedict has also elevated two SDBs to the college of cardinals: Hong Kong's Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, and the Vatican librarian Raffaele Farina, Bertone's former rector from their days at Rome's Salesian University.