In an article analyzing the impact Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba last year on the island, The Miami Herald’s Mimi Whitfield manages to write an article almost 1,200 words long without making one single, solitary mention of the more than 6,000 politically motivated arrests that took place on the island during and in the months following the pontiff’s visit.
I guess old habits are hard to break.
Gauging the impact of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s visit to Cuba
In the year since then-Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba with a message of “reconciliation,” change has come to Cuba but even greater change has come to the Roman Catholic Church.
Though no one present during the March 26-28, 2012 papal visit would have imagined it, a new pope has been installed as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and Benedict has resigned and taken the title of pope emeritus.
But Benedict, who appeared physically frail as he made the demanding trip to Mexico and Cuba, perhaps foreshadowed his decision to leave the papacy in his departing words to Cubans: “Goodbye forever…. May God bless your future.’’
In the intervening year, Cuban leader Raúl Castro has announced he plans to retire in five years and named an heir apparent, a devastating hurricane swept Santiago where Benedict celebrated mass, and Cuba has announced a new policy that will make it easier for Cubans to travel abroad and for Cubans previously banned to return for visits.
The Cuban Church is preparing a new pastoral program that will set its course for the next five years. And Good Friday will once again be a national holiday in Cuba. The government, which was once fiercely anti-religious, made it a holiday for the first time last year in a nod to Benedict’s visit.