Archdiocese Offers Flight To Visit Pope

Two weeks after opponents of Fidel Castro pressured church officials into canceling a three-day cruise to Cuba to see Pope John Paul II, the Archdiocese of Miami announced Tuesday that it would charter a plane for the pilgrims.

Passengers will pay $250 each for the trip, which includes transportation in Cuba and a visa. The flight is scheduled to leave for Cuba at 6 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25, and is to return on the same day.

Right-wing Cuban Americans said the cruise ship was morally inappropriate, given the number of Cubans who have died trying to make the sea passage to Florida, and an extravagance that Castro could use to demonstrate an openness that, they say, does not really exist.

About 400 people had signed up for the cruise. The ship has a capacity of about 1,100 people, but the plane, a Boeing 727, can only carry 180 passengers. Those who made reservations for the cruise will be given priority for the flight; if there are any remaining seats, they will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

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