Speaking in Spanish and English at a news conference Wednesday, Archbishop Thomas Wenski also announced he will celebrate a mass in Havana's cathedral March 27, a symbolic act reinforcing his message of reconciliation of Cubans at home and in the United States, The Miami Herald reported,
Because the two excursions are regarded as religious in nature, they are open to all Americans, without prior U.S. government approval. One is a four-day tour, leaving Miami by air and traveling to Santiago before arriving in Havana. The second is a Havana-only pilgrimage.
Pope Benedict XVI, citing the 400th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Charity, Cuba's patron saint, will visit the island March 26-28. The pope, invited by President Raul Castro and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, will meet formally with Castro and the bishops.
It is too early to judge the potential interest in the trips but Wenski mentioned, in the news conference, two charter flights, each holding as many as 250 people.
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