Cuban Catholics process with a statute of St. James on July 25, 2022, the saint’s feast day, in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. / Facebook page of Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba
Denver Newsroom, Jul 29, 2022 / 03:46 am (CNA).
A large number of Catholics from the Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba participated in a procession July 25 to celebrate the feast of their patron, St. James the Apostle.
The special event also commemorated the 507th anniversary of the founding of Santiago (St. James) de Cuba.
Archbishop Dionisio García Ibáñez, who was joined by almost all the archdiocese’s clergy, celebrated a Mass the same day in the Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. “Teenagers from various parishes in the city” helped organize the Mass, the archdiocese noted on its website.
In his homily, García recalled the time when the Spanish founded the city and placed it under the patronage of St. James.
“They came with two desires: the desire for wealth, and for power, but also to spread the faith,” he said. “May that desire for power disappear in us, and may what remains be the desire for justice, for good, for fidelity, for the love of God, for being witnesses of Christ in the midst of difficulties,” he said.
In addition, the prelate recalled the example of the city’s patron and asked Cuban Catholics to imitate “his strength and decision” to evangelize and bring hope to the archdiocese and the entire island of Cuba, especially during difficult times.
“In the midst of difficulties we have to give hope, and hope is only achieved, not in human promises that you know well may or may not be achieved, but in Christ Jesus,” he said.
Jesus Christ “will be with us and guides us in the midst of joy and turbulence. He is leading us to encounter him,” he added. If all Cubans followed the example of the saint, the city “would be a beautiful place in justice, in charity, in peace.”
García encouraged prayer for the Cuban people, “to be more faithful every day” and especially for their political authorities.
“We have to pray for our city, for the authorities so that they always seek the good of the citizens, respecting their rights, their freedom, and their desire for progress, their work, that their decisions may be just in order to seek the good of all citizens,” he said.
After the Mass, the participants processed with the cathedral’s statue of St. James to the atrium of the church where the prelate blessed the city of Santiago de Cuba.
In mid-July, Father Bladimir Navarro, who resides in Spain, told the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the situation in Cuba has worsened “very much” since the historic protests of July 11, 2021, when Cubans from different cities on the island took to the streets to protest the “economic misery” and the fear and repression of freedom that they have suffered for decades.
In Cuba “if you raise your voice and tell the truth, they come after you, they defame you,” Navarro reported. The priest stated that many young people, including minors, who protested “are in jail” and that the sentences in several cases exceed 10 years. “They only asked, ‘We want freedom, we want life; we want to live and we don’t want to (just) survive,’” he said.
On July 17, before the saint’s feast day, Archbishop García asked the Virgin Mary to move the hearts of those responsible for the imprisoned Cubans, so they can be released.
This story was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.