By Maritza Sanchez, national director of Caritas Cuba
The visit of Pope Francis to Cuba is a blessing and a gift from God. This is the third Pope who has come to see us in the past 20 years – which is a relatively short time.
The Pope is coming as a missionary of mercy, to encourage us to follow Christ and be compassionate and merciful like He teaches us with his words and deeds.
During the preparation for the Pope’s visit, which has in part coincides with the feast of Our Lady of Charity, the Mother and Patroness of Cubans, the Church has invited us to welcome the need to change and to rekindle the fire in our hearts so that we open them to others and offer them to the many material and spiritual miseries which prevent our society from being good.
It is an immense joy for Caritas that Pope Francis will be among us to listen to us, take us into his heart, to console and encourage us. We will pray together and above all, the Pope will leave us with his teaching, which will help us a lot on our journey to being what the Pope would like us to be: “Caritas is the caress of the Church to its people, the caress of the Mother Church to her children, her tenderness and closeness. It is the engine of the Church that organises love for all believers to work together in mercy.”
To meet the great challenges that exist we need to experience deep faith and be witnesses of the love of God so that we can have a big and merciful heart which will enable us to love and transform the realities of pain and injustice.
Pope Francis has said that he is coming to Cuba as a missionary of mercy, which echoes the message that he has been giving since the beginning of his pontificate. Furthermore, he’s invited us all to join in with the Holy Year of Mercy which will begin on 8 December and ends on 20 November 2016.
He will bring the mercy of God to all Cubans so that all of us who live in Cuba and abroad will be blessed with the love of God, with which we can love ourselves, our land and which will help us work for a thriving and peaceful Cuba.