Hispanic ministry

In Mexico and Cuba, papal trip to hit local and regional issues

Sandra Lopez picked out amulets in the religious goods shop at the Cathedral of Our Most Holy Mother of Light in Leon, Mexico, Feb. 12. The depth of religious devotion in Mexico is difficult to gauge, even as signs of religiosity are common. Pope Benedict XVI will visit Leon during his late March trip to Mexico and Cuba.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict's trip to Mexico and Cuba March 23-28 will be a relatively brief one, consisting of a little more than two days in each country. Yet his visit is bound to highlight a wide range of prominent issues affecting an entire continent of crucial importance to the Catholic Church.

The cry of the poor: Pope may criticize U.S. embargo of Cuba

Meals for the elderly are prepared in the kitchen at the Church of La Milagrosa in Havana in early February. The Catholic parish program feeds more than 200 people each day. There’s a good chance Pope Benedict XVI will publicly criticize the long-standing U.S. embargo against Cuba when he visits, said the Vatican spokesman.

VATICAN CITY -- The Catholic Church's position on the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba is "no mystery," the Vatican spokesman said, and there's a good chance Pope Benedict XVI will publicly criticize the embargo when he visits Cuba.

At the same time, Pope Benedict also will call for greater freedoms -- particularly religious freedom -- and respect for other human rights during his stay in Cuba March 26-28.

Faith and Culture | Transforming sorrows, spiritual appetites into joy

In a culture that often glorifies immediate gratification and self-indulgence, learning to cultivate and be attentive to our spiritual appetites is not easy. From very early on in our childhood, we quickly learn that if we cry hard and scream loud enough, our parents might just acquiesce to our needs. Even as we grow and mature, we seem to hold on to this child-like propensity to make demands of others -- even if our wants are not always the most rational.

Cuban Church more public in a changing culture

HAVANA (CNS) -- The Catholic Church that Pope Benedict XVI will visit March 26-28 is, to put it simply, more.

Since Pope John Paul II's visit in 1998, the Church is more unified, more public, more likely to work with the government in accomplishing specific goals, more involved in providing assistance to the Cuban people, more comfortable in its place in society. Its bishops, priests and laypeople, while still wary of pushing official tolerance too far, are more confident in teaching the faith in a way they believe can help shape the future of all of Cuba.

For Cuban-Americans, generational shift parallels changes on island

A clergyman greeted members of the Cuban-American community outside the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami during a Feb. 5 visit. Though they have adapted well to their new homeland, those who escaped Cuba continue to carry wounds of displacement.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As Armando Gil departed Havana in 1965, his father's last words to him, whispered in his ear, were: "Under no circumstances are you to return as long as there is communism in Cuba."

Bound for Mexico, then the United States, Gil was not in the United States a full year before he was off to boot camp for the U.S. Navy. Today, he is a retired schoolteacher, self-described "cradle Catholic" active in the Cursillo Movement and proud grandfather in Jacksonville.

Faith and Culture | Finding the right focus takes aiming our lenses

For many of us the advances in technology have been a real blessing, especially when it comes to saving our family's memories and significant moments in pictures. The challenges of owning a manual camera have given way to new and improved gadgets that not only take beautiful pictures but have the ability to transport those images all around the world in a matter of seconds.

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