March 14th, 2012
08:04 AM ET
By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
Havana (CNN) – In a rare speech on state-controlled television, Cuba's Catholic cardinal said an upcoming visit by the pope would reignite the religious fervor in the island.
Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, the Archbishop of Havana, told viewers that Pope Benedict was visiting the island to "revive a sleeping faith, a somewhat erased faith."
"The pope is determined to revive the faith of Christian countries that need to be re-evangelized," Ortega said.
Pope Benedict is scheduled to arrive in Cuba on March 26 for a three-day visit that includes celebrating Mass in Havana's Revolution Square.
The trip follows Pope John Paul II's landmark visit to the island in 1998 that improved relations between the Catholic Church and Cuba's communist government.
Following Fidel Castro's 1959 Revolution, the Catholic church suffered property seizures and the expulsion of priests by a government that was officially atheist.
In the 30 minute speech, Ortega explained the pope's role as leader of the church and said Benedict had discussed his desire to visit Cuba since his rise to the papacy in 2005.
"He is the guardian of the truth," Ortega said. "Humans need to seek the truth and he defends seekers of the truth."
"We can arrive at absolutism or a truly totalitarian or tyrannical regime," Ortega said, "When someone believes they possess the one and only truth. That's not what the pope proposes regarding the truth. Those excesses can't be accepted."
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