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
     Previous    
    by: Edward J Baker
    March 28, 2012 9:50 AM
    Of course he's a man. He's also the vicar of Christ whose unique authority is guided by the Holy Spirit, as Sacred Scripture and the proper use of the authority to interpret Sacred Scripture by the Church founded by Christ make clear.

    by: Okiepapist
    March 28, 2012 6:58 AM
    Gab,

    I see you back that ad hominum attack up with much documentation. Oremus Pro Pontifice!

    by: Frank
    March 28, 2012 6:56 AM
    Let us pray that this visit may do much good for the faithful and the others in this little country and even for poor old Fidel !

    by: NVO
    March 28, 2012 6:06 AM
    Jesus does predict a vicar in the sense of a replacement for His physical presence here on earth. This Vicar of Christ is not a pope! The only biblical Vicar of Christ is the Holy Spirit. In claiming that the pope is the Vicar of Christ the RC Church rejects the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ’s priesthood and grants to the pope roles that Christ Himself declared would belong to the Holy Spirit. It is blasphemy to ascribe to the pope the title of Vicar of Christ! Ratzinger is a mere man!

    by: Gab
    March 28, 2012 4:40 AM
    If Cuba can receive Ahmadinejad and Chavez, then why not one more hypocrite.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora