MADRID, Spain (CWN) - The discovery of a hidden listening device in a room to be used by Pope John Paul during his visit to Cuba next week threatened to scuttle the trip after its discovery in October, a Spanish newspaper reported on Saturday.

      The bug was found by Vatican officials preparing the parish rectory for the January 21-25 visit to the Communist nation. The El Pais newspaper did not report the location of the parish. The Vatican secretariat of state protested to the Cuban government and threatened to cancel the trip, the newspaper said. Vatican officials refused to comment on the story.

      Cuban officials said the bug may indeed have been in the house, but said it would have dated from the dictatorship of Fulgencio Bautista, who was overthrown by Fidel Castro in 1959. El Pais quoted experts who said the microphone could not have been 40 years old. The newspaper added that the declaration of Christmas as a national holiday was an attempt by Castro to revive the good will of the Catholic Church.

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January 13, 1998 volume 9, no. 13          DAILY CATHOLIC