Vatican: Pope will travel to Cuba

Dec. 9, 2011 at 7:14 PM

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI will visit Cuba next year in the second trip by a pope to the Communist island, a senior Vatican official said.

John Paul II visited in 1998, when he celebrated mass in Havana's Revolution Square and called on "Cuba to open to the world, and the world to open to Cuba," the BBC reported Friday.

Monsignor Jose Felix Perez, executive secretary of the Cuban Bishops Conference, said the exact date of Benedict's arrival in spring 2012 has not been decided, but the visit will include a pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin of Caridad del Cobre, the patron of Cuba, the Independent Catholic News reported.

Benedict will meet with representatives of President Raul Castro's government, the BBC said.

"The visit will give strength and vigor to the faith in Cuba. The visit should be one of peace and reconciliation," Perez said.

Perez said the pope may visit Mexico later in 2012, the News reported.

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