|WELCOMING WORDS TO THE HOLY
FATHER, ADDRESSED BY MONSIGNOR FERNANDO PREGO, BISHOP OF SANTA CLARA, BEFORE THE
CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST AT THE SCHOOL OF SPORTS "COMANDANTE FAJARDO", IN
SANTA CLARA. JANUARY 22, 1998
Dear Holy Father:
After a long and anxious wait today, filled with gladness, we experience a great joy in having Your Holiness among us. You have accepted to cross again the ocean to come and visit both your sons in the Catholic Faith and all men of good will, who live in this noble and beautiful island of Cuba; land of the Most Holy Mary, as Pope Pius XII, of Venerable Memory, once called her. And this Cuban land of Maria Santisima de la Caridad del Cobre, welcomes you today, Holy Father, with great anxiety and expectation mixed with profound love.
The Cuban people, and I speak firstly in the name of thousands and thousands of men and women of all ages who profess themselves as Catholics and also in the name of all men and women of good will, have waited during long years the moment in which the word of the Pope could be heard by us, directly from your lips; your word that, penetrating our souls, like the rain that nourishes our fields, vivifies and fortifies our hearts and our minds.
Great was our need to see you and to hear you! Confirm our faith, Holy Father, so that each day we might be more firm in it; more brave in following Jesus and more convinced in witnessing to all with word and deeds that God loves the world He created.
Give life to our hope, Your Holiness, so that we might lift up our eyes towards heaven, even in the mist of anxieties and disillusions caused by sorrows, failures and human labor of daily life; so that our confidence in God might grow with help from on high and we might be capable of always being aware of His Providence in all things.
Sometimes our charity diminishes because of a lack of mutual comprehension, our poor capacity to forgive and our stubbornness to maintain our differences, instead of living our brotherhood in the love which Jesus portrays in His Gospel. Remind us, Holy Father, that charity and fraternal love are always the distinguishing characteristics of every Christian.
Holy Father, we are waiting for your word to guide and to bring comfort to all Cuban families; so that the evils which gravely affect homes deminish; so that the excessive number of divorces, the horrible crime of abortions, the breaking of families due to labor and studies; the suffering caused by the need to leave in search of other horizons and the great pain that comes with the loss of those that have gone but will never appear again.
Holy Father, because of these reasons, guide with authority our Cuban families which greatly need your words.
Today in the person of your Holiness, God is with us, today God will speak to teach us with your voice. Today we are glad because we relish with your presence.
Holy Father, you are most welcomed to Santa Clara and to all of Cuba. Accept our great love and immense gratitude.