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Papal visit won't strengthen Cuban government, Cardinal Bertone assures

March 22, 2012

A visit to Cuba by Pope Benedict XVI will not strengthen the Castro regime, according to the Vatican Secretary of State.

In fact the papal trip will fuel the movement toward democracy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the Italian daily La Stampa. “I don’t believe the visit will be exploited by the government,” he said.

Cardinal Bertone said that during his trip the Pontiff will press for an end to longstanding government bans on construction of churches and parochial schools. In general the Pope will seek to “open new spaces for the Church’s presence and activity,” the cardinal said.

Cooperation between the Castro regime and the Cuban Catholic hierarchy in advance of the papal visit has shown that the government is prepared to allow greater freedom to the Church. Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana delivered a nationally televised address about preparations for the Pope’s arrival, breaking a ban on Church use of the state-controlled media.

However the cooperation between Church leaders and government officials has also prompted some anti-Castro activists to question whether the Cuban hierarchy has conceded too much to the government. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants to the US, told a Washington audience that he fears the Church has gained concessions from the government “in exchange for looking the other way” regarding human-rights violations.


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  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 22, 2012 3:32 PM ET USA

    Caro Cardinale Bertone: If the Pope's visit were not to the advantage of the Cuban government, it would not be taking place.