“Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality,” Pope Benedict XVI said, days before the first papal visit to Cuba in 14 years, The Telegraph reports.
He said the half-century-old communist regime in Havana “can no longer respond and build a society”, and called for “new models” to replace it, offering the help of the Church in achieving a peaceful transition to “avoid traumas”, according to Reuters. He added that the Church was always on the side of “freedom”.
The Pope is visiting Cuba as part of an official trip around Latin America. The Cuban leg is meant to offer support to the island’s nearly six million Catholics, Voice of America reports. The formerly atheist Cuban government has granted limited freedom to the Cuban Church, but still disputes its use of media and religious education.
The pontiff’s comments can only have increased the tension of an already fraught visit to Cuba. In recent weeks, protesters have taken to the streets urging the Catholic leader to speak out on human rights abuses, and authorities have responded with arrests and aggressive crackdowns.
Pope Benedict XVI has no scheduled meetings with opposition groups or Fidel Castro, but the Vatican has said he will be “available” if the elder Castro wants to meets him, according to Reuters.
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