Gloria Estefan delivers a message of freedom in the Vatican

(Miami Herald) It was late October 1995 when renowned Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan performed at the Vatican wearing an elegant and sober black dress in a recital celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s ordination as a priest.

Before her performance the singer saluted the Pope in English on her own behalf and that of her family. Then speaking in Spanish she said:

“Saintly Father, I ask for your prayers for opening the doors of freedom in my native land and everywhere in the world.”

Almost two decades later, amid criticism inside and outside of Cuba of increasing political repression, the singer and her husband, music produce Emilio Estefan, visited a different pope, but her call for Cuba’s freedom was the same.

The Estefans have met personally with the three most recent pontiffs who have led the Catholic Church, including Benedict XVI in a ceremony held at the White House, and now with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

“Thanks to our music we have become known and have been able to deliver a message for freedom,” Emilio Estefan said. He added that the opportunity to speak five or ten minutes with a pope or a president “makes a big difference.”

“I think they listen more because they know there is no political agenda. We go as human beings, as people known for our music,” Estefan said. “We say something as a wish from good citizens, not for obtaining personal benefit.”

The Estefans met Pope Francis, who is Argentine, when they were invited to take part in a private mass at the Vatican in April. [More]


Miami Herald