Cuba Needs Church to Combat Abortion, Says Castro

Mentioned Possible Papal Visit

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HAVANA, OCT. 16, 2005 ( Fidel Castro wants help from the Church to fight the “plague of abortion” in his country, reported an Italian cardinal at the end of a visit with the Cuban president.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, archbishop of Genoa, spoke of his trip in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, published Thursday.

“Fidel Castro is asking us for help to combat the plague of abortion in Cuba,” he said.

“The spread of abortion, as Fidel Castro emphasized, is among the causes of the country’s demographic crisis,” the cardinal added. “And it is also a consequence of the plague of sexual tourism.

“It is natural that Castro is concerned, and that I am embarrassed by the behavior of some Italians abroad.”

“The Church can make its contribution in the area of abortion and low birthrates in a country where openness is total,” Cardinal Bertone said.

Although the cardinal spoke about topics such as tourism, Castro wanted to speak about the Church, about the conclave and about “a possible visit of the Pope to Cuba.”

The cardinal traveled to Cuba Oct. 3-6 to accompany two Fidei Donum priests — clergy sent from one country to another where there is a shortage — who will work in two parishes of the Diocese of Santa Clara, reported the Italian newspaper.

The cardinal had made an earlier visit to Cuba in September 2002, during which he crowned the Pilgrim Virgin and placed in her hands a gold rosary sent by Pope John Paul II.

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