Fieles católicos cubanos participan en una procesión del Viernes Santo en La Habana, el 15 de abril de 2022. Foto: Ernesto Mastrascusa / EFE.

Stations of the Cross on Good Friday returns to Havana after two years of pandemic

The Stations of the Cross on Good Friday returned once again to the streets of Havanaafter two years of isolation for Cuban Catholics due to the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of people of all ages -mostly adults- joined the procession that left the parish of Cristo del Buen Viaje, a temple in the historic center of the Cuban capital, to walk the path of the 14 stations that set the pace step by step the religious act, which represents the death of Jesus.

At the exit of the procession, the vicar general and chancellor of the Archdiocese of Havana, Ramón Suárez Polcari, urged the faithful to “remain firm in faith and good work.”

A group of believers carried on a litter the images of Jesus of Nazareth –carrying his cross and crowned with thorns– and of the Virgin Mary of Sorrows through a maze of narrow streets in the oldest and most popular area of ​​Havana.

The procession – presided over by the Cardinal and Archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad García – brought together priests, nuns, deacons and faithful, accompanied by a talking car from which songs were heard.

But prayers were also pronounced for Cuba, with votes in favor of solidarity, forgiveness, faith, respect for values, reconciliation, overcoming divisions, as well as for those who must watch over the common good and particularly of the most people in need.

Residents and onlookers watched the Stations of the Cross stationed at the doors of their homes, on the sidewalks or from the top of balconies and rooftops along more than a kilometer that had its penultimate stop at the imposing Havana Cathedral and ended to the rhythm of a funeral march in the church of the Holy Angel.

In the same way, his passage attracted the eyes of numerous tourists who were walking through the area they frequent the most when they visit Havana.

Faithful again in the viacrusis

Ana María Martínez, arrived early at the Buen Viaje temple, of which she is practically a neighbor, and assured that she was moved “by a lot of faith, because I will always have it.” She according to her told her to EFEhas been left without a family: his only sister died of COVID-19 and his nephews live in the United States.

“I am very hopeful that life will return to the way it was before, although we continue to suffer from this disease. There are many people who have not lost faith and today I have come to ask God to help me », he pointed out.

A few meters away, Adrián Rodríguez, a 27-year-old who supported the organization of the viacrucis, considered “very important” that it could be carried out because it gives hope to “move forward” after the country’s economic situation has deteriorated, which, in its opinion, “has had repercussions at the community level with the increase in faith”, although it has also triggered emigration.

Good Friday in Cuba

In 2012, then-Pope Benedict XVI made a pastoral visit to Cuba, during which he asked the then-president of the island, Raúl Castro, to restore the commemoration of Good Friday as a holiday, which had been suspended for almost half a century.

That year and the next, the Cuban government declared Good Friday an “exceptional” holiday in consideration of Ratzinger’s request, and since 2014 it considered that Christian date as official in the island’s calendar.

In Cuba, with more than 11.2 million inhabitants, it is estimated that 60% of the population is Catholic, according to the number of people baptized in the Caribbean country.

The relations between the Catholic Churches and the Government experienced tensions at the beginning of the triumphant revolution in 1959, and later for years they remained with ups and downs until the beginning of the 1990s, they transitioned to a relaxation, especially since the historic visit of the Pope John Paul II in 1998, which was followed by that of Benedict XVI and the current Pontiff Francis.

Raquel Martori / EFE

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