Pope Sends Condolences for Deceased Cuban Activist

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas Remembered as Faithful Christian Until the End

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a telegram to Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega, archbishop of Havana, Cuba, regarding the July 22 car accident which killed Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, founder of the Christian Liberation Movement and winner of the 2002 Sakharov Prize, along with Harold Cepero Escalante, a youth leader of the Movement. Several other members of the movement were injured in the accident.  

The telegram was sent through Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, an official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, who was apostolic nuncio to Cuba from 2009 to 2011.

Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement in 1987, which called for nonviolent civil disobedience against one-party communist rule in Cuba. The movement has advocated for the liberation of political prisoners and for civil liberties. 

At his funeral, Cardinal Ortega recalled his friendship with the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, affirming that as a «good Christian,» Payá always held to his Catholic beliefs while involved in politics.

«Oswaldo had a clear political vocation and this, like a good Christian, did not distance him from the faith nor his religious practice. On the contrary, he always looked in his Christian faith for inspiration on his political option,» the cardinal said. 

The Cuban prelate also said that «Oswaldo lived the heartbreaking role of being a Christian layman with a political option in full fidelity to their ideas, while remaining faithful to the Church until the end of his life (…). His faith and love for the Church were constant. «

Cardinal Ortega read the telegram from the Holy Father. Having learned of the «tragic episode,» the Pope asked the cardinal to inform the victims’ families of «his heartfelt condolences and spiritual closeness. At the same time he promised his prayer «that the injured may be restored to complete health.»

There are some reports in the news that the car was run off the road. The Cuban police are said to be investigating the circumstances of the accident.

«The Holy Father likewise raises fervent prayers to God for the eternal repose of the deceased and asks Him to grant consolation and strength to those who, at this sad time, are weeping their irreparable loss. Invoking the protection of Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre, and as a pledge of copious divine favor at this time of suffering, the Holy Father affectionately imparts his apostolic blessing as a sign of faith and hope in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind,» the telegram stated. 

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