Cardinal Bertone to meet with Raul Castro on Tuesday “after lunch”
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

.- Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, will meet this Tuesday “after lunch” with the new president of Cuba, Raul Castro, becoming the first international leader to meet with Fidel Castro’s successor.

Late Monday, after a meeting with Cuban foreign relations minister Felipe Perez Roque, Cardinal Bertone said the release of prisoners is a “positive gesture” and that the Church has not asked the government for amnesty but rather “gestures of reconciliation.”  During a press conference, he said the Holy See is asking for “gestures of reconciliation from all parties, all forces of action here in Cuba.”

The cardinal said spiritual care is needed for “prisoners of every kind,” including political prisoners, and he added that this “is not a political problem for us; it is a humanitarian one, a problem of spiritual care.”

He went on to say that the new members of the National Assembly and the Council of the State “are trying to do good,” but he stressed, “Doing good is listening to the aspirations of the people, especially of the youth, and responding with proper and favorable initiatives.”  “The young people are the future of Cuba, of a free Cuba, a developed Cuba that is autonomous,” he added.

The Vatican cardinal said he had the chance “to discuss, face to face, various problems and share various goals” with Communist leaders. 

The meeting with Raul Castro will be the last activity on the agenda of Cardinal Bertone during his visit to Cuba.

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