Pope's Visit to Cuba
Pope John Paul II
Visits Cuba

    (updated Jan. 25, 1998)

    Pope John Paul II made an historic visit to Cuba January 21-25. It is the first time a pope has visited the island nation ever and the first time he was welcome since Fidel Castro rose to power in the Communist Revolution of 1959. St. Anthony Messenger senior editor Jack Wintz, O.F.M., was in Cuba writing a feature on the visit for St. Anthony Messenger. He filed eyewitness reports for American Catholic Online.

    [Original pre-visit text follows]

    It is not the first time Pope John Paul II has visited a Communist nation. His papal visits to his native Poland in 1979 ignited the Solidarity movement that ultimately contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    During his five days in Cuba the pope will have a meeting with Castro, visit the University of Havana, visit a leprosy center and meet with religious leaders. He will celebrate Mass in Santa Clara (Thursday), Camaguey (Friday), Santiago de Cuba (Saturday) and finally on Sunday in Havana, at the Plaza of the Revolution.

    The political effect of the papal visit remains to be seen. The Clinton Administration welcomes the visit, but says it will not reverse the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba. That topic is likely to come up in the papal addresses. Some have speculated that Castro patched relations with the Vatican in 1996 to try to overcome the isolating effects of the U.S. embargo.

    The religious effect of the visit will be of particular interest. In the days leading up to the visit, Fidel Castro announced holidays for government workers to allow them time to attend the papal events. In recent years the Church has been growing again. Father Wintz's telephone calls to Cuba during recent weeks reveal genuine anticipation of the papal visit on the part of Church members living in Cuba, including door-to-door envangelizing campaigns.

The Pope in Cuba: A Call for Freedom

Photo Gallery

The Church in Cuba:
Is a New Day Dawning?

from St. Anthony Messenger, May 1996.

Let's Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo
from St. Anthony Messenger, January 1998

Eyewitness reports by Father Jack Wintz (includes audio):
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Saturday
Sunday

About Father Jack Wintz

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