Church in Cuba: Politics Isn't Driving Mediation

Responds to Criticism in Efforts to Gain Release of Prisoners

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HAVANA, Cuba, AUG. 23, 2010 ( The Church in Cuba says its effort to mediate the release of political prisoners was and will be motivated by human dignity, not ideological tendencies of any sort.

This clarification came in response to an open letter sent by a group of dissidents to Benedict XVI.

The letter criticized the Church’s strategy, specifically in accepting the released prisoners’ transfer to Spain.<br>
The Church has been mediating with the Cuban government for several months, so far securing the release of 26 political prisoners — half of the number promised.

A statement posted Aug. 13 from the spokesman of the Archdiocese of Havana noted that the Church anticipated from the beginning varied responses to its mediation: «from insults and defamation to acceptance and gratitude.»

But, Orlando Márquez Hidalgo continued, «To remain inactive was not a valid option for the Church because of its pastoral mission.»

The statement assured that the effort «has not been based nor will it ever be based on political tendencies, neither those of the government nor those of the people who oppose it, but rather in its pastoral mission.»

The spokesman affirmed that the Pope is very well aware of this motivation. In this regard, he pointed to July statements from the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

Reflecting on the mediation efforts, the Jesuit affirmed that the Church in Cuba «bears sufferings and hopes with dignity and with patience, without servility but also without trying to increase tensions.»

Instead, Father Lombardi affirmed, the Church makes a «continuous effort to open roads to understanding and to dialogue.»

The Vatican spokesman noted that «important progress» has been made and he added, «We all hope that the journey will continue.»

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