(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 IIâ€™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:
â€œSaintly Father, I ask for your prayers for opening the doors of freedom in my native land and everywhere in the world.â€
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 Cubaâ€™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.
â€œThanks to our music we have become known and have been able to deliver a message for freedom,â€ Emilio Estefan said. He added that the opportunity to speak five or ten minutes with a pope or a president â€œmakes a big difference.â€
â€œI think they listen more because they know there is no political agenda. We go as human beings, as people known for our music,â€ Estefan said. â€œWe say something as a wish from good citizens, not for obtaining personal benefit.â€
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]