Anticipation builds for papal visit in Cuba

March 23, 2012 8:28:03 PM PDT
Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Cuba on Monday, but not in Havana until Tuesday. Part of his visit will include a large Mass. Time will tell how the visit will impact the relationship between the church and the Communist state. It's a journey some have waited 14 years for.

From cathedrals to the streets of Havana, Cubans are preparing for the pope's arrival.

The Holy Father urged Cubans to find ways to replace Marxism as he made his way to his first stop in Mexico. He told reporters aboard a flight that the process will require patience and decisiveness. It was as blunt as anything his predecessor has said.

Wednesday's Mass will be held here at this popular tourist site in Havana. It's the same place that Pope John Paul II spoke to about one million people in 1998.

Pope Benedict XVI will first stop in Santiago de Cuba on the opposite end of the island before making his way to Havana.

Ferreda de la Cruz was there for Pope John Paul II's visit 14 years ago. This is an opportunity she didn't know she would get twice in her life. She plans to take her daughter to mass so the Pope can bless her.

Rosa Ramonda Perra has treasured memories of Pope John Paul II's visit when she received a hug and kiss. She is hopeful to receive a very special second blessing in her lifetime.

Cuba's foreign minister responded to the Pope's comments, saying he is open to different opinions than his own and that he will listen to and respect that the Pope makes while he is in Cuba.

We don't know how many Cubans will make the trip to Wednesday's mass in Cuba. A bus ride costs about $1.20 per mile, but keep in mind that the average monthly salary is about $20.

Erik Barajas is reporting from Mexico on the Pope's visit. Christine Dobbyn is Cuba, which is preparing for the pope's arrival. Stay with ABC13 Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest coverage on the Pope's travels.

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