By Michelle Bauman
The words of hope delivered by Pope Benedict XVI to the people of Cuba at a March 28 Mass are inspiring Latin Americans from countries across the region.
Nadia Martínez de Pimentel told CNA that the Mass was an “overwhelming experience.”
Originally from the Dominican Republic, she said that she was deeply touched to see the “resilience of the people of Cuba” and the faith they have exhibited despite numerous challenges.
“I think that just to be part of it is a very humbling experience,” she said.
Officials predicted a turnout of more than half a million people at the Papal Mass in Revolutionary Square in Havana, Cuba on March 28, which came on the final day of the Pope’s visit to the country.
During his homily, Pope Benedict applauded steps that have been taken in Cuba “to enable the Church to carry out her essential mission of expressing her faith openly and publicly.”
He urged the nation to “continue forwards” and encouraged the government to “strengthen what has already been achieved.”
The Pope told the people of Cuba that the “path to a true social transformation” requires the formation of “virtuous men and women” who can help to “forge a worthy and free nation.”
“Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity,” he explained.
The Pope’s message made an impression not only on Cubans, but on members of other Latin American nations as well.
Pilgrims from countries including Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic flocked to Cuba to participate in the papal events that took place March 26-28.
Diana, age 20, said that she came to Havana from Mexico because she wanted to “hear the message of faith” that the pontiff was bringing to Cuba.
Although the Pope just concluded a visit to her home country of Mexico, she followed him to Cuba in order to immerse herself even further in his words to Latin America.
Diana called it “amazing” that she was able to see and listen to the “representative of God on earth.”
“You get to know another country through this experience,” she observed, adding that she believes her participation in the papal events “will bring me closer to Christ.”
For pilgrim Ramon Tallaj, the Pope’s message “is clear.”
Tallaj, a Latino who lives in the United States, explained that “the Holy Father came to tell the people about hope.”
Even in the most oppressing circumstances, people need not lose hope if they can turn to their faith, he said, because ultimately “that is what matters.”
Tallaj believes that apart from politics, faith and religion are “important for the human being.” Although religion can be a force for social change, he added, any movement must begin with a profound renewal of faith.
Ultimately, Tallaj thinks Pope’s visit will have a long-lasting effect in bringing about true change for the people of Cuba. “Now it is confirmed,” he said. “This truly is a revolution square.”