Pope says communism does not work in Cuba

Pope Benedict said on Friday that communism had failed in Cuba and offered the Church’s help in creating a new economic model, drawing a reserved response from the Cuban government ahead of his visit to the island next week.

Speaking on the plane taking him from Rome for a six-day trip to Mexico and Cuba, the Roman Catholic leader told reporters: “Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality.”

Responding to a question about his visit to Cuba, 90 miles off the coast of the United States and a Communist bastion for more than 50 years, Benedict added: “In this way we can no longer respond and build a society. New models must be found with patience and in a constructive way.”

The 84-year-old pontiff’s comments reflected the Church’s history of anti-communism and were more pointed and critical than anything his predecessor John Paul II said on his groundbreaking visit to Cuba 14 years ago.

They were also surprising because, after decades of poor relations following Cuba’s 1959 revolution, the Church and government have moved closer in recent years, so it was widely thought the pope would avoid problems by treading lightly on controversial topics.

If Cuban leaders were riled by his comments, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez gave no hint of this news conference at the opening in Havana of the press center for the visit.


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