Community Conversations

What does Pope Francis’ Cuba-U.S. trip mean for you?

Some locals felt Pope Francis’ meeting with the Castros in Cuba ignored the dissidents and those fighting to bring change on the island. Others felt the trip brought hope to the communist nation.
Some locals felt Pope Francis’ meeting with the Castros in Cuba ignored the dissidents and those fighting to bring change on the island. Others felt the trip brought hope to the communist nation. AP

We asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: What does Pope Francis’ Cuba-U.S. trip mean to you? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.

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As a Cuban-American woman that belongs to the Generation X community, it has been fascinating to watch and hear comments of Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba.

On Monday morning, I was on a live local morning TV program with Maria Elena Alpizar, vice president of the “Women In White Movement,” also known as “Las Damas de Blanco.” Six people from Miami called in to give their opinion on the meeting the pope had with Fidel: five against and one in favor.

I felt their pain through the phone. They felt as if the pope had slapped them in the face. The phrase “still divided” kept coming to mind. The divide continues from Little Havana to Cuba, all the way up to Congress, where the congressional Republicans hope Pope Francis would leave his liberal views in Rome.

The two exchanged books, spoke about climate change and the challenges facing the world. While living in Cuba, the CNN Havana crew went wherever Fidel went. No one ever knows what is discussed behind closed doors. Who are we to judge?

From having the experience of working for CNN, NBC News and Oprah and the opportunity to sit in high-level confidential meetings, [I know] the public is never privy to private conversations. The pope perhaps did bring up the issue of human rights. My sources in Washington and Havana assured me this subject has been in discussion. It’s all in the perspective of how one analyzes the current situation. For me, the fact that this is the third pope that goes to Cuba in less than 20 years is a blessing and a light for the Cuban people.

I want to express my feelings to all those that, after half a century, returned to [Cuba] to close whatever emotional embargo they felt, to connect with family, their childhood, a lost lover and their country. Pope Francis used his third and last Mass on the island to call for a “revolution of tenderness” and renewal of faith. I know it won’t be easy for some but I ask you all to try and do that for the Cuban people — our Cuban family living 90 miles away.

Patricia Vila, Miami Beach

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I wish I could look at this from the spiritual point of view of the spiritual leader of the Catholic church wanting to get to know his followers. But, I can’t when he walks side by side with a communist leader and fails to visit people who are imprisoned for defending the right to express their political and religious beliefs. At this point, his visit means just confusion to me.

Teresita Blanco, Miami Lakes

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For me personally, it is so enlightening, spiritually moving and special to watch and read about positive and uplifting news of the pope’s visit to Cuba and the United States. Our news is so often negative and depressing, and Pope Francis’ visit brings happiness, hope and joy to people who are witnessing his visit in person and those, like myself, who are watching the live television coverage. I only wish Pope Francis was also visiting Miami during his visit to the United States.

Tracy Towle-Humphrey, Miami

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Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba was a huge disappointment to the most fragile: the dissidents and prisoners of conscience. The pope meets with the oppressors but not the oppressed. Unconscionable. How could he not know dissidents and the brave ladies in white were trying to see him? The visit was a validation of the tyrannical Castro regime.

Fernando Amandi, Coral Gables

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I am a steadfast non-believer and so I may only comment from a political standpoint. Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba will only help speed up and enhance establishing new U.S.-Cuba diplomatic ties. It may be a positive thing, but otherwise, with the world becoming more and more secular, the pope's visit may otherwise be an insulting waste of time and effort.

Michael Hidalgo, Miami

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It means hope for a better world. If his visit is seen through the lens of religion, it means that the teachings of Jesus Christ are reaffirmed as Pope Francis blessed the poor in spirit ensuring the kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. Pope Francis promoted peace on global Peace Day, spent in the island of Cuba, where people have suffered tyranny for over half a century.

Esperanza Reynolds, Miami Lakes

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It doesn’t really mean anything to me except a great source of enjoyment seeing how uncomfortable he’s made everyone, from the far right to the left.

Marcelo Salup, Coral Gables

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While it is good that he has visited and left a message of hope to the Cuban people, he did not address strongly the crimes, inhumanity and repression of the Cuban regime. By his silence, I feel the regime used his visit to appear to be opening, but will in fact maintain the same repressive tactics that have allowed it to survive.

Tony Saiz, Miami

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The Cuba and U.S. visit by the pope means the opening of a new era for Cuba, marking the beginning of the end for everything that has been pending on the island. In the U.S., the Catholic religion, and its importance, will be reinforced. [The trip] will provide new leadership in directing the moral values of this country.

Fred San Millan, Miami

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