DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     September 16, 1998     vol. 9, no. 181

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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CUBAN CATHOLICS DENY GOVERNMENT HARASSMENT DURING PROCESSION

          HAVANA (CWNews.com) - The Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Havana, Father Ramon Suarez Polcari, on Tuesday denied the US State Department's allegations of harassment during last week procession of Our Lady of Charity in Havana and said that Communist Cuban authorities "did not play any harassing role."

          The US State Department issued an official statement saying that four officials of the American Interests Office in Cuba attending the procession as observers were harassed by Cuban agents. But, Father Suarez said, "almost five thousand people took part in the procession of the Virgin of El Cobre -- the most important Catholic devotion in the country -- and we did not register any harassment." He added, "We were quite alert and did not see any provocations, nor did we receive reports of problems."

          Father Suarez explained that the only incident during the procession occurred when "a civilian in the middle of the crowd raised a banner with a clearly political message," but said that "the crowd itself called the man to respect the agreement with the authorities." In order to obtain official authorization for the procession, the archdiocese agreed to keep the parade "purely religious," by asking people not to carry any other symbol or banner than the white and yellow balloons that were distributed by Church representatives.

          The crowd, led by the Apostolic Nuncio in Cuba, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, and Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana, "walked twelve blocks around the Our Lady of the Charity parish without any incident and in a fervent spirit," Father Suarez concluded.


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September 16, 1998       volume 9, no. 181
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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