Cuban Church Officials say they need Pope Francis, ‘Missionary of Mercy’

Cuban Church Officials say they need Pope Francis, ‘Missionary of Mercy’

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Pope Francis talks with Cuban President Raul Castro May 10 during a private audience at the Vatican, which played a key role in restoring U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties. (CNS photo/Gregorio Borgia, EPA) See CUBA-POPE-MERCY Aug. 19, 2015.
Pope Francis talks with Cuban President Raul Castro May 10 during a private audience at the Vatican, which played a key role in restoring U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties. (CNS photo/Gregorio Borgia, EPA) See CUBA-POPE-MERCY Aug. 19, 2015.
Pope Francis talks with Cuban President Raul Castro May 10 during a private audience at the Vatican, which played a key role in restoring U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties. (CNS photo/Gregorio Borgia, EPA) See CUBA-POPE-MERCY Aug. 19, 2015.

WASHINGTON — Ever since Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba was announced, Cuban church officials have billed him as the “missionary of mercy.” And it’s an important mission, some Cubans say, so that the country and its people — living in and outside of Cuba — can move forward.
The pope’s message of mercy is exactly what Cuba needs, some say. “Cuba need mercy because Cubans have been divided even inside Cuba, and Cubans have been divided even outside Cuba,” said Eduardo Azcarate, born in Havana but who now lives in Falls Church, Virginia.
The presence of Pope Francis can bring about a spirit of forgiveness among Cubans, he said. “I think that that is most important at this point, there has to be reconciliation, and there has to be giving up of old concerns, of old doubts, old fears, old hurts that have accosted us” and divided Cubans, he said. Azcarate will travel with his wife and daughter to the island for the pope’s Sept. 19-22 visit, and they plan to attend the Sept. 20 Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square. “It is important to be present,” during the pope’s visit, he said, and “to give support to the church in Cuba.”