DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     June 15, 1998     vol. 9, no. 115

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Since the January visit by Pope John Paul II to Cuba, there has been a "new climate" in the country, marked most notably by the prominent social role of the Catholic Church. That was the message of the Cuban bishops at a press conference in Rome today.

          The bishops-- who had traveled to Rome to join with the Holy Father in an assessment of the progress made by Cuban Catholics since his historic visit-- said that relations between the Church and the Castro government have changed dramatically. Bishop Meurice Estiu explained, "The path of the Church in Cuba has passed from a stage of confrontation in the 1960s, through recognition in the 1970s, more acceptance in the 1980s, and a progressive acceptance of her social role during the 1990s." He said that Catholic leaders look forward to "more and more" recognition of the Church's involvement in the life of society.

          The bishops characterized the Pope's visit as an "extraordinary event," which had an enormous impact on the development of more natural church-state relations. The pace of negotiations between the bishops and government officials picked up rapidly, they reported, and the bishops now look forward to further progress on issues such as the Church access to the means of communications and assistance for missionary work.

          Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino of Havana declined to answer reporters' questions about the political impact of the papal visit, and the prospects for a breakdown of the Communist government. "We are not political analysts," he cautioned. "The visit by John Paul II was pastoral. He invited us to recover our heritage, and to reconciliation."

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 15, 1998       volume 9, no. 115


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