The Catholic Archdiocese of Miami has confirmed that it will be organizing a pilgrimage to Cuba, to allow Catholics of Cuban origin living in South Florida to participate in the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, scheduled for the end of March. Details will be announced within ten days, according to the Archdiocese.
"I hope that there will be hundreds of people who will go to Cuba," Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami told the press. Archbishop Wenski reiterated that the Pope's journey, in addition to strengthening the Catholic faith in the island, will also serve to unite the Cuban Catholics who live on the island with those who live outside the island. "I hope that the Pope once again insists on promoting the idea of reconciliation", Mgr Wenski said, adding that he has always wanted to maintain a close relationship between the Catholic Church in Florida and in Cuba.
Recently, Archbishop Wenski concelebrated an open-air Mass in Havana with the bishops of Cuba. The Mass marked the end of three years of preparation for the Marian Jubilee of 2012, sponsored by the Bishops of Cuba to commemorate the 400 years of the discovery of the image of the Virgin of Charity,
patroness of Cuba, which laid the foundation for Christian worship on the island.
During his pastoral visit, from March 26 to 28, the Pope will visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, in Santiago de Cuba, which preserves the original image of the Virgin, found in the Bay of Nipe in 1612.
For many years, since the Cuban revolution, American citizens, and Cubans living in America, were not allowed to visit the island. As of May, 2009, the US government loosened travel restrictions for a small group of US citizens with relatives in Cuba.