HAVANA – Havana’s new archbishop, Msgr. Juan de la Caridad Garcia, on Sunday urged continuing the ongoing Church-state dialogue at a Mass he celebrated after assuming his responsibilities at the cathedral in the Cuban capital.
“Your presence here encourages and spurs us to continue with the dialogue ... so that the Church can find ... other spaces for its evangelizing, ... educational and charitable mission,” said the prelate in greeting Cuban Vice President Salvador Valdes and the head of the Communist Party’s Religious Affairs Office, Caridad Diego, who were present at the Mass.
Garcia was accompanied by his predecessor in the post, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, whose retirement request at age 75 Pope Francis accepted in April, as established in Church regulations.
During the ceremony, Ortega turned over to Garcia the pastoral staff, announcing that on June 29 he will receive the pallium from Pope Francis at the ceremony for St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome.
A papal bull was read at the Mass stating that Garcia was found to be “suitable” for appointment as archbishop for his “acknowledged intellectual and moral qualities,” in addition to his “broad experience” in carrying out pastoral work.
Garcia was accompanied by members of the Cuban Catholic Bishops Conference, as well as bishops invited from Spain, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Miami.
Havana’s new archbishop was born in Camagüey on July 11, 1948, and completed his philosophical and theological studies at the San Basilio Magno Seminary in Santiago de Cuba, and at the San Carlos and Ambrosio Seminary in Havana.
Ordained a priest in 1972, he served first in the Ciego de Avila diocese before being named auxiliary bishop of Camagüey in 1997 and five years later being elevated to archbishop of that diocese.