Pope Benedict waves during his March visit to Cuba.


Pope Benedict waves during his March visit to Cuba.

May 14, 2012

The March visit to Cuba by Pope Benedict has helped reawaken people's interest in the Catholic Church, say two Cuban bishops visiting the United States.

But it also has stirred criticism of the Church's efforts to work with the government more and may be connected to a fire of suspicious origin that gutted a travel agency that organizes charter flights from Florida to Cuba.

Remarks at an April 24 forum at Harvard University by Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino about the Church's role in Cuba riled some of the outspoken critics of the Castro government in both Havana and Florida.

Ortega spoke at length about the "profound reawakening" the Church is seeing in Cuba, augmented by the pope's visit.

"The Church is living a spring of faith in Cuba," Ortega said.

The pope's visit left people impressed by his meekness and kindness and that enthusiasm to "delve more deeply" into faith will live on in the hearts of Cubans.

Bishop Arturo Gonzalez of Santa Clara, Cuba, told Catholic News Service during an April 26 visit to Washington that since the pope's visit, attendance at Mass has increased, as has interest in the Church's programs.