Miami Catholics Watch Pope's Cuba Visit From Afar

Many believe the pope will also meet with Fidel and Hugo Chavez

By Patricia Tirone and Hank Tester
|  Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012  |  Updated 7:53 PM EDT
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The pope arrived in Havana on Tuesday, his second day in Cuba in efforts to reconcile relations and improve the role of the Catholic Church.

The pope arrived in Havana on Tuesday, his second day in Cuba in efforts to reconcile relations and improve the role of the Catholic Church.

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Miami Archbishop Heads to Cuba

More than 300 people headed to Cuba with the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami Monday morning to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to the island. Priests, nuns, pilgrims and others lined up to check in for two charter flights to Santiago de Cuba at Miami International Airport as part of a delegation led by Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski. "We think that this will be a great religious experience and we hope that it brings more faith and more hope to Cuba," Wenski said. "The pope is a part of that future."

Miamians Gather to Watch Pope's Cuba Mass

Miamians gather at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity to watch a broadcast of Pope Benedict XVI's mass in Cuba.
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Miami's Cuban Catholics were watching the Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the island nation from afar. 

The pope arrived in Havana on Tuesday, his second day in Cuba in efforts to reconcile relations and improve the role of the Catholic Church.

After landing at Havana’s International airport, he was greeted by a massive crowd that included controversial Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

The pope was scheduled to attend mass, and phone calls confirmed that the government is extremely selective with who gets to attend mass with him.

“There are some Catholics that have been picked by the government or approved by the government, but the majority of them are from the regime,” said Janisette Riverio in Miami.

The pope is also scheduled to have a formal meeting with Raul Castro. Many suspect that Fidel Castro will also be there along with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

The question that lingered among the exile community about this meeting was whether or not the Castros will ask for forgiveness to the pope.

“I doubt it,” said John Suarez. “Unless they see some advantage in maintaining political power, I do not see them doing it.”
 
Members of the exile community see the pope as low key, but to the point.

“The challenge of this pope is to meet with the opposition as another view within Cuba’s society,” Suarez said.

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