MIAMI (CWN) - The Archdiocese of Miami, which earlier canceled plans for a cruise to Cuba last month, announced on Monday that it had chartered a plane to fly up to 180 pilgrims to see Pope John Paul's visit to the Communist nation this month.

      Archbishop John Favalora will lead the pilgrimage on January 25 which will cost $250 per person and will stay in Havana for about nine hours. The cruise ship was canceled after pressure from Cuban exiles groups in south Florida that the trip would offer a financial benefit to the Castro regime. "We're not going for any reason except as a religious pilgrimage," said Father Patrick O'Neill who is organizing the pilgrimage. "These are our sister and brother Catholics in Cuba and our spiritual leader the pope is visiting them."

      Cuban exile leaders said they did not object to the new trip. "This is not a big thing, it is a one-day affair, it is very limited and it doesn't have the symbolism that the cruise ship had," said Carlos Saladrigas, chief operating officer of The Vincam Group.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

January 8, 1998 volume 9, no. 6          DAILY CATHOLIC