Also present were the Cuban Ambassadors to the Holy See, Jorge Quesada, and Italy, José Carlos Rodríguez, along with officials and workers from both missions, as well as other representatives of the diplomatic corps.
After the opening greeting by rector Vincenzo Buonomo, recorded from Havana, Monsignor Emilio Aranguren Echeverría, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, presented the award.
Ambassador Quesada read a biographical synthesis of Leal, while Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and apostolic nuncio in Cuba between 1992 and 1999, offered his praise.
Born in Havana on September 11, 1942, and recognized worldwide for his role in the restoration and preservation of the historic center of the Cuban capital, Eusebio Leal is a prominent intellectual, with an extensive political, professional, teaching and academic career.
Doctor in Historical Sciences from the University of Havana, of which he is Professor of Merit and Master in Studies on Latin America, the Caribbean and Cuba Specialist in Archaeological Sciences, the historian is dean of the San Gerónimo University College of Havana.
Author of numerous books, essays and articles on Cuban history, art, restoration and other topics, he is also president of the Network of Offices of the Historian and Conservator of the Patrimonial Cities of Cuba and honorary president of the Economic Society of the Friends of the Country.
In their speeches, Aranguren and Stella extolled the figure of Leal, his intellectual work and qualities as a human being, Christian faith, friendship with the late Cardinal Jaime Ortega and the role played as facilitator and informal mediator in the relations between the Catholic Church and the Cuban State.
The academic act concluded with the presentation of a video with excerpts from the keynote lecture delivered by Leal, ‘Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino: the pastor and the man. Praise of priestly virtue,’ in which he offerd a broad and detailed history of the Catholic Church in Cuba.
The Pontifical Lateran University is one of the most important teaching and research institutions of the Holy See, founded in 1773. Because of its significance, the pontiff Saint John Paul II said there, on a visit in February 1980, that it was the University of the Pope. (Latin Press)