Pope Benedict XVI went off the script during his visit to Cuba yesterday, and it likely sent a shiver down the spine of the Castro regime. The anti-Castro protests have one chant: “Libertad! Libertad!”
That is exactly the word the Pope slipped into his remarks.
Here’s the report from the Miami Herald:
In his arrival remarks, Benedict said Cubans “wherever they may be” were in his prayers. He said he prayed for guidance for “the future of this beloved nation in the ways of justice, peace, freedom, liberty and reconciliation.”
The word liberty, a politically charged word, was not in the prepared remarks that had been distributed to reporters in advance of the pope’s arrival and was added by the pope apparently at the last minute. [Emphasis mine]
Popes are usually circumspect when it comes to directly criticising governments. They don’t want to “showboat” their political opinions only to have the government they criticised take out their anger on local Catholics.
But while Benedict didn’t criticise the regime directly, he did so implicitly several times, including at the conclusion of his homily (full text here), where he urged Cubans to remake their society.
I appeal to you to reinvigorate your faith, that you may live in Christ and for Christ, and armed with peace, forgiveness and understanding, that you may strive to build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity, and which better reflects the goodness of God. Amen.
An open society, a better one. Implicitly he is saying that the Cuban regime isn’t truly worthy of humanity itself. This is strong stuff from the ageing pontiff.
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