The two islands in which I live were all mixed up in my head: the Cuba of the official celebrations with smiles and slogans, and the other one, that of dissidents forced into cars and prevented from attending a Catholic Mass.
The Catholics are preparing their liturgies and their pomp to receive Benedict XVI, while others wonder if his arrival will bring some significant transformation in the political or social situation of the nation.
Pope Benedict is putting his own "personal stamp" on the matter of the death of Jesus. Anyone who thinks that Joseph Ratzinger personally "blames the Jews" will have to grapple with these clear comments.
While it doesn't mean at all that the pope has approved condoms for use in terms of birth control, the Vatican's latest pronouncement is the first time that a pope has given voice to what many moral theologians have been saying for years.
I know that for many British Catholics, their faith makes them think of something warm and good and kind -- a beloved grandmother, or the gentler sayings of Jesus. That is not what Ratzinger stands for.
What the world has learned in five years about a scholar-pope is the price that the academy pays for truth-telling and integrity. Infallibility exacts costs. People prefer conciliatory politicians over contentious critics.