Last Saturday I had the privilege of witnessing nine men who are journeying through the permanent diaconate program in the Diocese of Des Moines be formally installed as lectors by Bishop Pates. The Rite of Lector is an important step for these men as they progress toward ordination in two years. (My husband, Joel, is one of the nine, and I will post more on the Rite later in the week.)
During the Mass, Bishop Pates looked forward to visiting Cuba with Pope Benedict XVI. As Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pates has traveled to countries where the Church faces great challenges in proclaiming its mission of reconciliation and dialogue. Last month, Pates traveled to Venezuela for a first-hand look at how the Church is working (or not) under the oppressive Chávez regime.
Now my bishop’s in Cuba, one of the most relentlessly anti-religious counties in the world. I keep scanning local papers and television news broadcasts (albeit sporadic) to see how this historic trip is playing out, and I’m not seeing much. Seems like a great opportunity to report some positively Catholic news for a change.
So, in case you missed it, do yourself a favor and read Bishop Pates’ recent blog post reflecting on the gravity of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Cuba, and follow the Catholic News Agency’s coverage of the trip. I look forward to hearing more from Bishop Pates when he returns.
Let us pray that the Holy Father’s trip to Cuba strengthen religious freedom, defend human rights, and promote civil society in that country. Maybe this trip will do for Cuba what Blessed Pope John Paul II’s historic 1979 trip to Poland did for that country?