As I bid you a heartfelt adios, I ask our Lady of Charity of El Cobre to protect all Cubans under her mantle, to sustain them in the midst of their trials and to obtain from Almighty God the grace that they most desire. Hasta siempre, Cuba, a land made beautiful by the maternal presence of Mary.This is not simply a request for Mary to pray for the people of Cuba. It is specifically asking Mary to
- protect the Cubans under her mantle,
- sustain them in the midst of their trials, and
- obtain from Almighty God the grace that they most desire.
Here we have the most interesting part of Benedict XVI's comment. He alleges that Mary's "maternal presence" is in Cuba, and that this "maternal presence" makes Cuba beautiful.
But where is the historical Mary? Her body is an unknown grave and her soul is in heaven. She is not present, body or soul, in Cuba.
Lady of Charity of El Cobre is an idol, it's not the historical Mary. That idol has no power to bring the spirit of Mary down from heaven. In fact, it has no power of its own at all. It had to be rescued from the waters of Nipe Bay in 1606 by three fishermen. It is the Cubans who are the hope of the idol (if it even had a spirit to hope!), not the idol that is the hope of the Cubans. They rescued it, but it can never rescue them.
And neither is Mary, either real or imagined, a hope for the Cubans. She is a spirit who has entered into glory, awaiting the resurrection of the body. She does not have a mantle of protection to offer. The only hope for the Cubans - as for all mankind - is the son of the real Mary, namely Jesus Christ the righteous. He alone is the rock of our salvation, for he is not merely man but Emmanuel, God with us.
Cuba is a land made beautiful by God's mercy and kindness. It is wrong for Benedict XVI to attribute this to Mary or her imagined presence.