Photo: Way of the Cross Celebrations in Cuba
The Havana Archbishopric is celebrating unprecedented live and public “Way of the Cross” events on the streets of the Cuban capital during Lent and in preparation for the visit to the island by Pope Benedict XVI late this month.
One of the ceremonies took place on Saturday in the residential neighborhood of Central Havana, where some 200 religious faithful and curious onlookers gathered in a park to witness the recreation by a number of young people of scenes of Christ’s passion and death.
The event continued with a procession headed by an image of Jesus carrying a cross, which wended its way through several streets in the district and was presided over by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the top Catholic Church figure on the communist island.
While the faithful intoned religious chants and prayers, the local residents of the area observed from the balconies and doorways of their homes as the procession moved past and many took images of it with their mobile telephones.
According to sources with the Havana Archbishopric, these representations of the “Way of the Cross” began several weeks ago and will be held in different neighborhoods around the capital up until March 16.
When the Saturday procession ended, Cardinal Ortega addressed the participants to remind them of the pontiff’s visit from March 26-28.
Over the past two years, the Cuban Catholic Church has taken on a new role as interlocutor with the state beginning with an unprecedented dialogue initiated by President Raul Castro and Ortega in May 2010 that resulted in the release of dozens of political prisoners from the regime’s jails.