Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Benedict XVI asks Raúl Castro to declare Good Friday a Holiday in Cuba

Havana, Cuba, Mar 27, 2012 / 08:56 pm (CNA).- During a personal meeting that lasted over 40 minutes, Pope Benedict XVI asked Cuban President Raúl Castro to recognized Good Friday as a holiday in Cuba because of its importance in the Catholic calendar.

During the conversation, “a particular topic was touched upon: the Pope brought to the attention (of President Castro) the importance of Good Friday, asking for the possibility of its recognition as holiday,” said Fr. Lombardi.

The Vatican’s spokesman recalled a similar request made Blessed John Paul II made to Fidel Castro about Christmas. As a consequence of that request, the Cuban government re-established December 25 as a national holiday. Christmas had been suspended from the calendar with the triumph of the revolution.

“Of course, this is a matter for the Cuban authorities, and we hope for a response in the not too distant future,” said Fr. Lombardi.

During the meeting with Raúl Castro, the President gave to the Pope “a beautiful wooden sculpture of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre. The Pope also gave the President a gift, a facsimile copy of an ancient volume from the Vatican library, the Latin translation of Ptolemy’s Geography. It includes a map from 1400 and the latest update includes a world map from 1530 in which the American continent appears, and which points out the location of Cuba.”

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