SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops visited Cuba's most revered religious site, the sanctuary of the Virgin of El Cobre, celebrating Mass with several Cuban bishops there as well as at the cathedral of the country's second-largest city during a two-day trip to the country.
The visit by Cardinal Francis E. George June 23-24 was part of an exchange between the U.S. and Cuban churches, said Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez of Santiago, president of the Cuban bishops' conference.
"This visit ... adds to our mutual understanding, because we have always encountered understanding from the North American church," Archbishop Garcia said.
He added that the U.S. church has long been in solidarity with the Cuban bishops, who have hosted visits from their U.S. counterparts many times.
Welcoming Cardinal George and his companions to the Mass at the Metropolitan Basilica Cathedral of Santiago, Archbishop Garcia said "we are seeing here a sign of the unity of the church, a sign that there is another world where it is possible to dream of and build a world of solidarity and brotherhood."