Aide: Church Plays Key Role in Dialogue in Cuba

Father Lombardi Reflects on Release of 50 Prisoners

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 11, 2010 ( The announcement of the upcoming release of political dissidents in Cuba, an event in which the Church played a vital role, is a significant step for the Caribbean nation, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said this in the most recent edition of the weekly Vatican Television program «Octava Dies.»

On Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Havana announced the forthcoming release of 52 political prisoners — five immediately and 47 more in the coming three or four months. Their release is another fruit of mediation by the Church, which already brought the freedom of a paraplegic prisoner and the relocation of 12 others.

The Vatican spokesman said the release of the prisoners, and the end of the hunger strike of journalist Guillermo Fariñas, «is good news from the Caribbean island, which we were expecting for several weeks.»

«They are significant signs,» he stressed, «that we hope indicate stable progress toward that climate of renewed social and political coexistence that we all hope for the Cuban nation.»

«The crucial role in the process of dialogue assumed by Cardinal Ortega Alamino and by Archbishop Dionisio García, president of the bishops’ conference, was made possible by the evident fact that the Catholic Church is deeply rooted among the people and is a reliable interpreter of it spirit and expectations.»

The Church, he observed, «is not an extrinsic reality, she does not flee in difficult times. She bears sufferings and hopes with dignity and with patience, without servility but also without trying to increase tensions and excite souls. On the other hand, she does so with the continuous effort to open roads to understanding and to dialogue.»

«For its part,» the Jesuit continued, «the Holy See accompanies and supports the local Church with its spiritual solidarity and with its international authority.»

«From John Paul II’s trip [to Cuba] to the recent visits of Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, to the diplomatic contacts in the Vatican on the Cuban situation, the Holy See has always been against the embargo, and therefore solidary with the sufferings of the people, and ready to support every prospect of positive dialogue.»

«‘May Cuba open to the world and the world to Cuba!’ John Paul II exclaimed on his unforgettable trip in 1998,» Father Lombardi recalled. «With patience, important progress has been made in this direction. We all hope that the journey will continue.»

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