Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed the profound sorrow of the Mother Church of Constantinople for the passing of Eusebio Leal Spengler, a prominent Cuban intellectual who was the director of the restoration programme of Old Havana and its historical centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ever-memorable Eusebio Leal, a close associate of President Fidel Castro Ruz, a distinguished historian and lover of Byzantine culture, played a determining role in the construction of the Church of St. Nicholas in the old town of Havana.
He had also visited the Holy Centre at the Phanar, in the early 2000s, to express to His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the will of President Castro and the Cuban Government to build a Byzantine-style Orthodox Church, and to offer it to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
He, thus, cooperated closely with Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico, who was responsible for the Orthodox faithful in Cuba, while he has always been interested in many issues of the Mother Church. In January 2004, in a historic ceremony, then-President Castro handed over, in a symbolic manner, the key of the Church to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who presided over the consecration ceremony.
Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico expressed condolences on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the President, the Government and the family of the departed, but also to the people of Cuba.