Vat­i­can: Pope’s Cuba trip should help democ­racy ef­fort

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

The Vat­i­can’s No. 2 has dis­missed sug­ges­tions that Cuba’s com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment could ex­ploit Pope Bene­dict XVI’S up­com­ing trip as a pro­pa­ganda tool, say­ing the visit should help pro­mote democ­racy on the is­land.

Car­di­nal Tar­ci­sio Ber­tone, the Vat­i­can’s sec­re­tary of state, said that he ex­pects an out­pour­ing of sup­port for the pope be­cause he is the head of the Catholic Church, and that the visit will only make things bet­ter for the Cuban church.

“I don’t be­lieve the visit will be ex­ploited by the gov­ern­ment,” Car­di­nal Ber­tone told the Turin daily La Stampa in an in­ter­view pub­lished Thurs­day. “In fact, I think the gov­ern­ment and Cuban peo­ple will do their ut­most to wel­come the pope and show him the es­teem and trust that the leader of the Catholic Church de­serves.”

Bene­dict, 84, leaves Fri­day for a six-day trip that will take him first to Mex­ico, then to Cuba on Mon­day.

It is Bene­dict’s first trip to Span­ish-speak­ing Latin Amer­ica, and Pope John Paul II’S shadow will be loom­ing large, given his five vis­its to Mex­ico, which claimed the Pol­ish pope as its own, and his his­toric 1998 trip to Cuba.

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