Cuba to Allow Mass in Prisons

HAVANA, Cuba, SEPT. 17, 2009 ( After 50 years of prohibiting Masses to be celebrated in prisons, the Cuban government on Wednesday changed its policy, opening the way for both Catholics and Protestants to hold services for the incarcerated.

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Spokesmen for the Catholic Church expressed their satisfaction with the change to a policy that was enacted at the beginning of Fidel Castro’s reign.

Father José Félix Pérez, executive secretary of the Cuban episcopal conference, said that the issue had been under discussion and affirmed that a good channel of communication with the government made the decision possible.

Though some elements of the new policy are yet to be defined, Father Pérez affirmed that the change “is real, and we are happy that it’s turned out this way.”

Previously, Masses had only been celebrated in prisons on certain dates. Now, weekly Mass will be a possibility.

“Now [the celebration of Mass] will be ongoing,” Father Pérez clarified, “though this regularity will depend somewhat on each place. The systems of provincial prisons each have their own rules. It will depend where the prisoners are who ask for the celebration of Mass.”

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