HAVANA (CNS) — God’s ways can be mysterious and sometimes frightening, but faith means trusting God, said the new archbishop of Havana.

After receiving a pastoral staff from retired Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana, the city’s new archbishop told a huge congregation — including officials of the communist government — “You will understand that I’m scared. I do not understand the mystery of why I’m here or why the Holy Spirit chose me.”


Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez, who was installed as archbishop May 22, the feast of the Trinity, told the congregation, “Maybe God took very seriously the motto of my priestly ordination,” which was an adaptation of a line from the prophet Jeremiah: “To whomever you send me, I shall go; whatever you command me, I shall speak.”

Still, the new archbishop said, “The Lord chose me and will not let me down, I trust.”

He said he also trusted in the support and prayers of his brother bishops in Cuba as well as those who traveled to Cuba for his installation, including Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami. He said he trusts in the priests and deacons — “all of them passionate, zealous for the kingdom” — and in the women religious, “who are moms, teachers, women who pray, counselors.”

The Trinity, Archbishop Garcia said in his homily, is a mystery “we cannot understand with our limited human intelligence, but life is full of mysteries” that “cannot be understood with the mind but with the heart.”

The archbishop quoted the Cuban hero and poet Jose Marti as saying, “‘God needs no one to defend him; nature defends him,’ so when we see flowers, rainbows, when we study the four stomachs of the cow, when we’re on the beach, when we eat mangoes, let us exclaim: Glory be to the Father, glory be to the Son, glory be to the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit fills people with “the desire to live in peace, eat in peace, work and study in peace, coexist in peace and die in peace. So we dream: May no one steal from anyone, no one hit anyone, no one hurt anyone,” and when injury is done, he said, may forgiveness and reconciliation follow.

Cuban Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa and Caridad Diego Bello, head of the Communist Party’s Religious Affairs Office, attended the Mass. The Spanish news agency EFE reported the new archbishop told them their presence “encourages and spurs us to continue with the dialogue,” particularly to promote the church’s evangelization, education and charitable works.