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Vatican confirms Pope telephoned dissident “Ladies in White” in Cuba

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/22/15

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The question of Cuba’s treatment of political dissidents—and Pope Francis’ engagement with them—continued to be in the news as the Pope made his way through his island visit. On Monday, papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi confirmed that the Pontiff had telephoned dissidents on Sunday. The group Ladies in White, who march almost every Sunday after Mass in Havana to keep alive the plight of their jailed husbands, reported that nearly two dozen of their members were blocked by security agents from attending the papal liturgy in Havana on Sunday. Two other dissidents said they were detained after the Vatican invited them to the vespers service at Havana’s cathedral as well, the Associated Press reported. In response to reporters’ questions, Father Lombardi confirmed that Francis himself had telephoned dissidents, the Miami Herald reported:
Asked if the Holy See would lodge an official protest [after the arrests], Lombardi demurred. He stressed that [the Vatican outreach] was a “passing greeting,” not an official meeting, and that it was set up out of a “desire to show an attention for everyone, including dissidents.”
In addition, the Pope’s homily on Monday, in Cuba’s fourth largest city, Holguín, included “the kind of reference that could be interpreted as political as well as religious,” the Herald noted. He was celebrating Mass on the Feast of Saint Matthew, and spoke of a conversion that came about because of the way Christ looked at him.
Christ, the Pontiff said, “invites us slowly to overcome our preconceptions and our reluctance to think that others, much less ourselves, can change.” Was he alluding to politics from, toward or within Cuba?
“His speeches always have many dimensions,” Father Lombardi said later. “Each one of us has to start to change… Beyond that, naturally, there are many interpretations.”

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