Pope, archbishop express condolences over Fidel Castro's death

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Quoting from the Book of Ecclesiastes and referencing judgment, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami issued a statement on the Nov. 25 death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

“Now he awaits the judgment of God who is merciful but also just,” wrote Archbishop Wenski in a brief statement posted on the archdiocese’s website Nov. 26. “His death provokes many emotions — both in and outside the island. Nevertheless, beyond all possible emotions, the passing of this figure should lead us to invoke the patroness of Cuba, the Virgin of Charity, asking for peace for Cuba and its people.”

Castro was 90 and ruled Cuba from 1959 — when his regime overthrew the government of Fulgencio Batista — until 2009 when he handed power over to his brother Raul.

Pope Francis sent a telegram in Spanish to Cuba expressing condolences over the “sad news” of “the death of your dear brother” to Raul Castro, who currently rules the island. He also expressed condolences to the government and to its people, and said he was offering prayers and entrusting the nation through intercession of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the patron saint of Cuba.

Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist party in Cuba, said the formal public mourning period and homages to Fidel Castro will begin today and go through Dec. 4. On Nov. 30 the transport of his ashes to the province of Santiago will begin, concluding Dec. 3 at the cemetery of St. Ifigenia in Santiago de Cuba, where the Cuban national leader Jose Marti is buried.

Archbishop Wenski concluded his message asking that “Our Lady of Charity, hear her people’s prayers and hasten for Cuba the hour of its reconciliation in truth, accompanied by freedom and justice.”

Through the intercession of the Mary, may “the Cuban people know how to traverse that narrow road between fear which gives in to evil and violence, which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse,” he added.

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