Cuba´s Eucharistic Congress a First Under Castro

HAVANA, DEC. 14, 2000 (

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The first Eucharistic Congress held in Cuba since the Castro revolution in 1959 was hailed as a «historic milestone» by the nation´s bishops´ conference.

«We are very happy with the gifts God has showered on us during these days,» Orlando Marquez, spokesman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, told Vatican Radio.

The Eucharistic Congress, held last weekend, was preceded by a theological symposium, began last Friday with eucharistic adoration. It was followed the next day by a historic public Mass, during which 2,000 children received their first Communion.

According to Marquez, the highlight of the congress took place Sunday, with a historic procession through the streets of Havana, which ended in the cathedral, where Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, presided over the Mass.

During the homily, the cardinal appealed to «the authorities and Cuban society not to be afraid to open the doors of the Church, so that she may fulfill the mission entrusted to her by the Lord.»

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