“I guess first of all I’m
here out of curiosity,” said Amador Hernandez, 37. “My ancestors were catholic.
I’m not someone who goes to church, but I believe in Christ and the Virgin
of Charity, of course.” So what happened? Why is Fidel cozying up
to the Pope. “I understand there were some differences between the church
and the government. They didn’t agree. Maybe some took advantage of their
religious role and spoke against the government. Now both the church and
the government of changed. The change has been mutual. Today, it’s not
a shock to see a soldier, a doctor or a professor--like me--at mass.” He
likes the fact that the Pope had humble origins. He also like getting breakfast
this morning paid by the state. “We’re all well fed this morning.” He can’t
wait to see Fidel and the Pope side by side. Why? “Fidel, we all--well
I should say the great majority, not all--have confidence in him. And with
this his prestige will grow and keep growing.”
A little Cuban improvisation was also evident. Places for the crowd were
to receive mass were marked with sticks with drawings of the holy chalice
for the wafers were waived in the air. But in order to receive, you had
to have a little red and white badge that read “comulgante” (communicant).
Those who didn’t waited for others to go and then borrowed their tag.