Attendance at Catholic mass by Cuban officials unprecedented

Pope Benedict's diplomatic representative in Havana, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Bruno Musaró, celebrated a Sunday Mass on March 4 to pray for the health of Venezuela's ailing President Hugo Chavez. A long-time friend of both of the Castro brothers who have ruled Cuba for more than 50 years, Chavez is fighting cancer. He will soon undergo further radiation therapy since the cancer in his pelvic region reemerged.

Chavez told the media in Havana on March 3 that the lesion removed from him was cancerous. According to various media reports, the cancer has not metastasized to the rest of his organs.

Papal representative Musaró invited all of those present at the Mass to pray for Chavez. Among those present were Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Cuba, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ricardo Maduro, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Also there was the widow of Alberto Granados, a physician and companion of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. "We must support our Comandante Chavez" said Delia de Granados, and attending Mass was "a way of supporting him and praying for his health."

Both Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega are known to invoke the Virgin Mary and God in their speeches,

comparing their policies to the Sermon on the Mount. However, last year when Chavez first went to Cuba for cancer therapy, pagan shaman's of Cuba and Venezuela were quite visible as they invoked their various gods and goddesses. No Catholic Masses were said for Chavez at that time.

Cardenal Ortega and Apostolic Nuncio Musaró will participate in the outdoor Masses to be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI during his upcoming visit to Cuba. The Pope will first stop in Mexico, and then fly to Cuba where he is expected to promote "reconciliation" between Cubans.

Even while Catholics have continued to attend Mass since the 1959 revolution, there were government-imposed restrictions. And during those years, it was unthinkable for members of Cuba's Communist government to be seen in a church. 



Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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