Pope Benedict Confirms Cuba Trip

Pope will make stops in Cuba, Mexico sometime before Easter

Pope Benedict XVI confirmed Monday that he'd be traveling to Cuba sometime before Easter for a trip that would also take him to Mexico.

Benedict confirmed his travel plans during a Mass on Monday honoring Mexico's patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, saying he wants to strengthen the faith and encourage Catholics there to seek love, justice and hope.

In his homily, the 84-year-old pope said he hoped his trip would help build a society "rooted in the development of the common good, the triumph of love and the spread of justice."

He said this was "a precious time to evangelize with a solid faith, a lively hope and ardent charity."

After it was announced last month that Benedict was interested in traveling to Cuba, some in Miami's Cuban community voiced their criticism of the trip.

"Well, I think it's an ill-advised and ill-timed visit," Jaime Suchlicki, director of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, said. "It's ill-advised because it legitimizes the transfer of power to Raul, the establishment of a military dictatorship in Cuba."
Benedict will be following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II, who made historic trips to both Cuba and Mexico during his pontificate.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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