January 18, 2000
volume 11, no. 12
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Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Appeals for Greater Liberty for Church in Caribbean Island

    VATICAN CITY, JAN 17 (ZENIT).- This morning, two years after the Pope's historic visit to the Island, John Paul II received Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, in order to analyze Church-State relations in Cuba.

    The Cuban Foreign Minister, who also met Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, confirmed "the will of his government to foster mutual and harmonious collaboration," according to an official statement published by the Vatican Press Office.

    During several meetings in the past, the Pope and his collaborators "have requested greater religious liberty for believers in the Island," in keeping with the Holy Father's proposals during his visit to Cuba in January of 1998.

    The Vatican press statement reveals that the two parties were in agreement "when analyzing several topics of international politics as well as the need to promote greater solidarity in favor of the poorest countries."

    Hours before the meeting, Perez Roque said that he hoped to explain to the Pope the Cuban claim against the United States for repatriation of the boy Elian Gonzalez. The Vatican press statement, however, does not refer to the case.

    The Cuban Foreign Minister's visit to the Vatican is part of a tour of Europe, which will take him to Italy, San Marino, France, Denmark, and Russia. He will reiterate Havana's position on the case of ferryman Elian Gonzalez, who was rescued from the sea after the shipwreck in which his mother died, to the government of these countries. "I will speak to all about the experience Cuba is living through at present, and the inconceivable situation that a small boy should be kidnapped."

    As the Cuban Minister himself indicated, this is a unique opportunity to sensitize international public opinion to Cuba's claims against the United States. The 6-year old boy is living with relatives in Miami, who are trying to prevent his return to Cuba, while his father is calling for his return to the island, with the support of the Castro government. Thus a child has become the innocent object of exchange and negotiations between two countries. ZE00011705


January 18, 2000
volume 11, no. 12

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