Pope's Letter to Fidel Castro

Expresses «Profound Distress» Over Conviction of Cuban Dissidents

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2003 (Zenit.org).- When John Paul II heard about the recent sentences levied against Cuban dissidents, including three death sentences, he requested Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, to express «his profound distress» in a letter to Fidel Castro. Here is a translation of the letter.

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Vatican, April 13, 2003
Palm Sunday

Distinguished Mr. President:

As Holy Easter draws near, I am pleased, in the first place, to express my best wishes to you and to the whole Cuban Nation.

In addition, I fulfill the important duty of communicating to you that the Holy Father has felt profoundly afflicted upon learning the severe sentences imposed recently on numerous Cuban citizens and, also, for some sentences of capital punishment.

Given these facts, His Holiness has asked me to request Your Excellency to give consideration to a significant gesture of clemency toward those condemned, with the certainty that such an act would contribute to create a climate of greater relaxation for the benefit of the beloved Cuban people.

I am sure that you also share with me the conviction that only a sincere and constructive confrontation between citizens and civil Authorities can guarantee the development of a modern and democratic State in an ever more united and fraternal Cuba.

I take advantage of this circumstance, Mr. President, to renew my sentiments of highest and distinguished consideration.

Card. Angelo Sodano
Secretary of State

To His Excellency Mister Dr. FIDEL CASTRO RUZ
President of the Council of State and of the Government
of the Republic of Cuba

[Translation by ZENIT]

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