COCONUT GROVE (CBS4) – South Florida is playing host to two Bishops from the Cuban Catholic Church this week.

Bishop Arturo Gonzalez of Santa Clara, Cuba is in town for a four-day visit to promote solidarity between the Cuban Catholic Church and Cubans living in South Florida, reports CBS4’s news partners The Miami Herald.

“The goal of this commission is precisely to discover and help discover the ties that unite Cubans anywhere in the world,” said Gonzalez.

The task may prove to be difficult after years of religious oppression from the communist regime.

Last week, church leaders marked the opening of the island nation’s first seminary in 50 years outside of Havana. Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski attended that inauguration.

Tonight, Wenski held a special mass welcoming Bishop Gonzalez at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Coconut Grove.

At a news conference today, Bishop Gonzalez spoke to the media about the importance of solidarity between South Florida and Cuba. His speech also turned political, commenting on the prisoners recently released and exiled to Spain.

“We have a promise that this prisoner liberation process will continue. There is already a great number of prisoners who have been freed — not only the group of 35. We hope it is completed. There has been an offer of freedom for prisoners who want to leave, and there has also been a promise of freedom for prisoners who want to remain in the country,” Gonzalez said.

Cuban church leaders hope the reinvention of the Catholic Church on the island will entice the Pope to visit, which would be the first papal trip to Cuba since 1998, when Pope John Paul II visited.

Source: The Miami Herald


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