News

    Pope Benedict Meets With Fidel Castro in Cuba

    In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI meets with Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, March 28, 2012.
    In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI meets with Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, March 28, 2012.

    Pope Benedict has met with Cuba's former leader and revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, shortly the pontiff called for greater religious freedom on the island.

    A Vatican spokesman said the meeting Wednesday occurred after the pope's outdoor mass in Havana's Revolution Plaza. The mass capped his first papal visit to Cuba.

    On Wednesday morning, tens of thousands of Cubans filled the plaza that marks the island's communist revolution, with some holding umbrellas to shield themselves from the blazing sun.

    A VOA reporter on the scene quoted some in the crowd as saying they thought it was great that Pope Benedict was in Cuba, but they do not expect his visit will have any effect on the country's political system.

    The pope used his homily to praise the steps taken in Cuba to improve religious freedom, but he said more needs to be done.  He said the world and Cuba need to change by choosing "the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity," and seeking truth.



    Religion and politics

    The U.S. State Department said it asked the pope to raise with Cuban officials the case of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba after being convicted of crimes against the communist state.

    A department spokeswoman said the request was made to the Vatican and through its diplomatic mission in Washington before Benedict arrived in Cuba on Monday.

    Earlier Wednesday, a Vatican spokesman said the pope made a "humanitarian request" of Cuban President Raul Castro, but did not say if specific cases of political prisoners were discussed.

    The spokesman said Pope Benedict also asked Mr. Castro to officially designate Good Friday, the day Christians observe the death of Jesus, as a national holiday.  

    On Tuesday, the pontiff briefly met with Raul Castro, Fidel's younger brother and successor.  

    Pope Benedict went to Cuba on a mission to boost the Church's influence and encourage Cubans to seek political change in order to build a "renewed and open society."

    But Vice President Marino Murillo said Tuesday "there will not be political reform" in Cuba.

    The pope's visit comes 14 years after his predecessor, John Paul, made the first papal visit to the communist-run island. The Roman Catholic Church has since grown to become the most influential institution next to the government.  Cuba was officially an atheist state from 1959 until a constitutional change in 1992 abolished atheism as the state creed and called for separation of church and state.  At that time, the Communist Party also lifted its ban on members with religious beliefs.

    Cuba is the last stop on the pontiff's five-day Latin American trip that began last week in Mexico.

    Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Gab to Teri, two separate issues
    March 29, 2012 2:57 PM
    All charities do some good, regardless of how corrupt they may be. Again, I will acknowledge what is right with Cuba and we will also acknowledge what is wrong with the United States Government. But religious organizations will never acknowledge their own corruption and criminal activities. And don't equate sex with robbing children of their innocence, followed by denial and protecting the guilty parties.

    by: Okoro Leo C
    March 29, 2012 10:23 AM
    The papal visit to Cuba is in line with his divine calling to preach the gospel to the whole world. The Pope did not only bring the message of the good news, he also brings with him divine renewal, divine restoration and divine redemption to the good people of Cuba, who I am sure must feel greatly honoured and pleased to be so divinely favoured.

    by: Teri
    March 29, 2012 7:34 AM
    Pope Benedict means well for Cuba. But Cuba's government takes care of its people. Storm shelters, food, clean water, schools. The US looks good on paper, but homeless people live in the woods, kids get shot in schools.
    Sexual obsession is YOUR predicament, Gab, not the Catholic Churches, whose best mission is rescuing the dispossessed in countries where government DON'T care for them-running schools, shelters, food for the poor,and a sense of community.

    by: Teri
    March 29, 2012 7:25 AM
    Pope Benedict means well for Cuba. But Cuba's government takes care of its people. Storm shelters, food, clean water, schools. The US looks good on paper, but homeless people live in the woods, kids get shot in schools.
    Sexual obsession is YOUR predicament, Gab, not the Catholic Churches, whose best mission is rescuing the dispossessed in countries where government DON'T care for them-running schools, shelters, food for the poor,and a sense of community.

    by: NVO
    March 29, 2012 6:14 AM
    At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent to be the Comforter. NOT a pope! Peter is NOT the rock, Christ is=1Cor 10:4. The idea of a pope is NOT Biblical! You make the Word of God of NONE EFFECT through your traditions=Mark 7:13. The RC church is a CONFIRMED Amillennial/Replacement Theology church. Both doctrines based on and rooted in ANTI-SEMITISM. HIDEOUS!

    by: Gab to Okiepapist
    March 29, 2012 6:01 AM
    The Pope is against contraception, but does not have to raise the millions of unwanted children born every year, nor pay for their health care, nor pickup their college expenses. The fact is, the Catholic Church has spends a fortune defending pedophile priests in the Court system, and paying off plaintiffs. The Pope states that homosexuality is an abomination, while he is obviously gay. The man is a hypocrite, the Church is a hypocrite.

    by: hammar
    March 28, 2012 9:55 PM
    Pray and repent is all the Bible asks of us...not who we are or what
    we pretend to be or know...Faith is our guide.

    by: Alicia
    March 28, 2012 9:29 PM
    I rather be duped for my life time than spend eternity in hell.

    by: NVO
    March 28, 2012 4:03 PM
    1Corinthians 10:4 tells us that CHRIST is the rock, NOT Peter. Imagine building a church on a man that denied you 3 times?! You duped catholics have no clue about Scripture for there is not one Bible in any RC church worldwide! Ratzinger is a MERE man, and the next pope will be the one who defects from the faith. See Malachi Martins prophesy.

    by: ndbooster
    March 28, 2012 9:59 AM
    NVO: your comments on Pope Benedict have no merit. A vicar is a representative, or agent of a superior. The Holy Spirit has no superior. The Gospel of John has Jesus appointing Simon who he renamed Kephas or Peter which means rock in Aramaic and English or Petrus in Latin as His vicar. Jesus told us that His Church would last until He came again at the end of times. It is safe to assume that there would be successors of Kephas to lead Jesus' Church until His return.
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.