Pope tells Cubans to look beyond Marxism

March 23, 2012

c. 2012 Religion News Service
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI on Friday (March 23) urged Cuba's
communist government to look for "new models" beyond its "Marxist ideology,"
saying it is clear that Marxism "no longer responds to reality."

Speaking on the plane taking him to Mexico for his first visit to
Spanish-speaking Latin America, the pontiff also stressed that though the church
"is not a political power," Catholics must do more to bridge the gap between
the rich and the poor and to promote "social justice."

The plane carrying Benedict and his staff, as well as around 70
Vatican-accredited journalists, left Friday morning from Rome. After a 14-hour
flight, the pope will arrive in Guanajuato, Mexico, where he will stay for three
days before moving on to Cuba.

Asked about the situation in Cuba after recent timid steps toward reform,
the pope recalled John Paul II's first visit to the island, in 1998, which
opened a "way of cooperation and dialogue" between the church and the Cuban
government.

It is a "long road that requires patience, but that leads forward," he
added, according to media reports and a Vatican Radio report.

Even though no meeting with dissidents is scheduled on the island,
Benedict stressed that "the church is always on the side of freedom" of conscience
and religion.

Referring to Mexico's "enormous" drug-trafficking problem, Benedict said
the church must work to "unmask" this "evil," which is "destructive of
mankind and (especially) of our youth."