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Pope to Cuban government: The Church needs basic religious freedom

During his Homily, the Pope said that the need for truth is a natural human desire. A desire, that goes hand in hand with authentic freedom. ;

Benedict XVI

“The right to freedom of religion, both in its private and in its public dimension, manifests the unity of the human person, who is at once a citizen and a believer. It also legitimizes the fact that believers have a contribution to make to the building up of society.”

The Pope went on to say that Christianity, does not impose its set of values. But rather, it gives the opportunity for people to learn the truth. The truth, said the Pope, sets people free. Cuban president Raul Castro attended the Mass. There, before him, the Pope recognized that improvements have been made, but he urged the Cuban government to do more. ;

Benedict XVI

"To carry out this duty, she must count on basic religious freedom, which consists in her being able to proclaim and to celebrate her faith also in public, bringing to others the message of love, reconciliation and peace which Jesus brought to the world."

Our Lady of Charity is the Patroness of Cuba. Her image was present at the altar, as the Pope recognized her 400th anniversary.

The Pope also made a point to honor Cuban priest Felix Varela, who died in 1853. As a priest, he encouraged Cubans to think freely and strengthen their spirituality. ;

Benedict XVI

“Father Varela offers us a path to a true social transformation: to form virtuous men and women in order to forge a worthy and free nation, for this transformation depends on man’s spiritual life, in as much as ?there is no authentic fatherland without virtue.?”

The Pope concluded ;by saying that Cuba and the world need change. But this will only happen, said the Pope, if every person has an opportunity to seek truth and reconciliation. ;

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-BN