Pope meets with Fidel Castro, urges more freedom

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI ended his three-day visit to Cuba on Wednesday (March 28) with an appeal for … Continued

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI ended his three-day visit to Cuba on Wednesday (March 28) with an appeal for more religious freedom for the Catholic Church, ahead of a highly anticipated meeting with the island’s historic leader, Fidel Castro.

And while he stopped short of openly criticizing the island’s communist regime during the trip, Benedict nonetheless said Cuba needed “change” and a “renewed and open society.”

The pope celebrated Mass on Wednesday in Havana’s Revolution Square for about 300,000 people, according to the Vatican’s top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

Cuban President Raul Castro was in attendance and joined in the crowd’s applause when the pope entered the stage.

Benedict and Raul Castro had had a 40-minute private meeting on Tuesday where, according to Lombardi, the pope asked Castro to consider making Good Friday a national holiday and made some “humanitarian requests.” No details were given about the details of Benedict’s requests.

On the plane that was flying him to his earlier stop in Mexico, Benedict urged Cuba to look for “new models” beyond its “Marxist ideology,” which he said could no longer “respond to reality.”

But during the Mass on Wednesday, Benedict only acknowledged that both “Cuba and the world need change,” adding that change would come only through “love” and by “sowing reconciliation and fraternity.”

Benedict’s more strongly worded appeal on Monday to “build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity,” was promptly rebuked by Marino Murillo, a vice president in the Council of Ministers, who told journalists on Tuesday that “political reform” was not on the agenda.

“We are talking about the update of the Cuban economic model to make our socialism sustainable,” he said of the country’s steps towards opening some economic sectors to private initiative.

At Wednesday’s Mass, Benedict acknowledged Cuba’s progress in granting the Catholic Church greater freedom, but called on the government to allow the church a wider role in society, especially in the “fields of knowledge.” The Cuban government doesn’t allow the church to open schools or universities.

Before leaving Cuba, the pope met for 30 minutes with the island’s leader Fidel Castro. Castro had stated his desire to meet for “a few minutes” with the pontiff in a column published on the Internet.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Universal Uclick.

  • SODDI

    I agree with Fidel Castro. The Catholic Church should allow more freedom.

Read More Articles

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

concert
Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

shutterstock_37148347
What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.