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MIAMI (CBS4) – The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, will visit Cuba this Spring.

Monsignor Jose Feliz Perez, who is in Cuba, said Pope Benedict will formally announce the trip on Monday.

Perez said the visit will “give strength and vigor to the faith in Cuba.”

The visit would be especially meaningful to the Catholic community in Cuba because they are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, which is Cuba’s patron saint.

Cuba was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1998 and the Vatican’s number two person in 2008. The foreign minister of the Vatican came to the communist country in 2010.

Pope John Paul II was very well received and thousands attended a mass he celebrated.

“The Pope’s presence in Cuba in 1998 was a liberating presence and his message is, I think, set the benchmark for a for a transition for Cuba… a future Cuba where there would be hope for the people on the island,” said Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski. “So I think another visit by another pope would have a similar positive impact.”

Wenski said if the 85-year old pontiff does make the trip, he would be honored to accompany him.


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