Catholic World News News Feature
Despite Crackdown, Vatican Still Talking with Cuba May 01, 2003
The Vatican will not break off dialogue with the government of Cuba, despite its condemnations of the recent crackdown on political opposition there.
Speaking to reporters in Rome on April 30, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, reiterated the Holy See's firm stance against the harsh punishments meted out to Cuban dissidents. About 80 opponents of Fidel Castro's regime were imprisoned during the month of April, subjected to summary trials, and condemned to long prison terms; several dissidents were given the death penalty.
While Pope John Paul II is severely disappointed by the Cuban crackdown, Cardinal Sodano said: "We continue to have a lively hope-- the Pope and myself-- that Fidel Castro will lead his people toward democracy, respecting the progress that has been made in recent decades."
The April 11 execution of three Cuban dissidents, and the hasty trials for dozens of others, were "clearly a disappointment for the Pope and for the free people of the world," the cardinal said. "The Holy Father expressed his surprise and regret, and that is why he has asked for some gesture of clemency toward the prisoners."
Cardinal Sodano said that, with the help of the apostolic nuncio in Cuba, the Vatican will continue to make appeals to Castro, "because for every man there is a basis on which one can form a dialogue."