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Statement from Archbishop Wenski on pilgrimage to Cuba for papal visit

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Statement from Archbishop Thomas Wenski on the pilgrimage to Cuba organized by the Archdiocese of Miami for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.

The Archdiocese of Miami is pleased to announce that it is planning a pilgrimage for the Holy Father’s visit to Cuba the last week of March.

Our plans are to visit Santiago and Havana to attend the two open air Masses that the Holy Father will celebrate while in Cuba. The Papal Masses will take place on March 26th in Santiago and on March 28th in Havana. In the addition, Archbishop Wenski will celebrate a Mass on March 27th in Havana’s Cathedral for the pilgrim group from Miami. We will return on the morning of March 29th.

“A Jesus por Maria, la Caridad nos une”. To Jesus through Mary, love makes us one. Given that the details of the Papal trip were only recently finalized, it is not possible to secure transportation by cruiseship. Our travel agency is awaiting final permits for the aircraft. We are offering one excursion that will include both Santiago and Havana; and we also plan to make available an excursion to Havana only. We are preparing a package that will include airfare, bus transfers, hotel accommodations and most meals. Cost of the visa is additional.

All travel arrangements will be handled by an US Department of Treasury authorized travel agency – and all legal guidelines will be followed. Since this travel is for religious purposes one does not need to be Cuban or Cuban American in order to travel to participate in the Papal visit..

The price of the total package will vary depending on type of hotel accommodations selected, etc. We should have definite prices by next week from the travel agent; in the meantime, those who wish to participate in this historic visit can email the Archdiocese at cuba2012@theadom.org with their contact information. An application will be sent by return email to be fill out.

Why are we going? The Cuban bishops have said: “The Cuban people are one – wherever they are”. The Pope is traveling to Cuba to honor Cuba’s patron saint, Our Lady of Charity, during the jubilee year of the 400th anniversary of her presence on the island nation. We travel in solidarity with the Church in Cuba – and in response to their invitation to share with them this historic event.

The Pope travels to Cuba as a pilgrim of charity. We go to Cuba in the same spirit. As the Cuban Bishops wrote in a pastoral letter last month:

“Cuba needs the joy of faith and the Virgin of Charity went out to meet her children so that those who have been estranged may return to God, that those who had remained firm in their faith may deepen the Christian commitment and that all may experience the great love of God for his children and so that we may strive in truth and in love to build unity among all those who form one people, overcoming and integrating with respect differences and distances.”

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