CARDINAL Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, has said at a meeting with Cuba's bishops that he hoped his visit to their country would help advance Church-state relations.
The cardinal conveyed a message from Benedict XVI expressing the Pontiff's "ardent goal of renewing the true evangelising impulse" that John Paul II left "deeply ingrained in the hearts of all" in January 1998. He also expressed the Pope's "esteem... for your tireless pastoral efforts, as well as my closeness to the aspirations and concerns of all Cubans".
Cardinal Bertone arrived in Cuba last Thursday, one day after Fidel Castro announced his resignation. He met the country's bishops and celebrated an outdoor Mass. Havana Auxiliary Bishop Juan Hernandez Ruiz said that the cardinal's words were marked by "solidarity, affection and closeness".