Pope to Maintain Dialogue With Castro for Sake of Democracy

Vatican Secretary of State Tells of John Paul II's Hope

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, MAY 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican's secretary of state says that John Paul II will continue his dialogue with Fidel Castro in hopes of fostering the democratization of Cuba.



Cardinal Angelo Sodano made the disclosure when speaking to journalists about the recent wave of repression against political dissidents in the island nation.

Cardinal Sodano, who was attending a Marian congress here, said that the Pope is convinced that he "must continue the dialogue" to contribute to Cuba's democratization.

"In life, every one must be given the possibility to come out of the world in which he has shut himself," the cardinal said. "The great hope the Pope nourishes, which I also nourish, is that he will be able to lead that nation to new goals of democracy, while respecting the achievements in these past decades."

This "latest decision has certainly been a disappointment for the Pope and for so many free peoples in the world, with three executions and the courts' harsh sentences," the cardinal added.

"The Pope expressed his distress and has asked that, at least, there be gestures of clemency in favor of the imprisoned," the cardinal said, alluding to the letter he sent to Castro on Palm Sunday.

"We will continue that dialogue through Archbishop Luis Robles Díaz, our very good nuncio in Cuba, and through the bishops and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana," Cardinal Sodano said. "The dialogue will never be interrupted, because there is always a basis for conversation with all people."