Traces N.4, April 2012

The Common Thread

It was expected to be a historic journey. One does not often see a Pope land in Cuba, one of the last outposts of Communism; the only precedent, with John Paul II, was in 1998. There was great expectation in Mexico, as well, for many reasons, beginning with the anomaly of a country of 115 million inhabitants where the people are Catholic and the government has never been (with all the suffering and wounds this has caused).
And, in effect, the pastoral visit of Benedict XVI did not fall short of expectations. This was true from the beginning, with the Mexican welcome that inspired him to say, “I have accomplished many journeys but I have never been received with so much enthusiasm,” to the end, with those memorable 40 minutes of dialogue with Fidel Castro on the Liturgy of the Church and the absence of God, books to read, and advancing age.

But now that the journey is over–now that it has become history–now that the “political” readings have been archived, now that the pundits have finished calculating how many words the Pope dedicated to dissidents and how many minutes to the meeting with the leader, what truly remains of those days? What did the Holy Father want to say, speaking to the heart of Latin America and, through it, to the whole world?

This is what we address in this issue of Traces, trying to focus on the fundamental words, going to the heart of them, but above all to see the common thread that binds them, within and beyond the analyses–precise and detailed–of the crisis of an economic system and the overcoming of Marxism, of the “idolatry of mammon” and the “false promises” behind violence.
The common thread is both simple and clear, said in many ways (“full life,” “joy,” “happiness”) but with only one name: “Jesus Christ. In Him, we find the truth about God and about mankind.” And it is not an abstract, spiritual truth: “In Him, we find the strength needed to face every trial.... In Him, everyone will find complete freedom, the light to understand reality most deeply and to transform it by the renewing power of love.”
In Him is the key for dealing with life–its toil, drama, and beauty–with the concreteness of our life, in Cuba, as in Mexico, as everywhere. Enjoy reading, then, and blessed Easter season.