The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba reported in a statement that at a meeting held April 26 at the Palace of the Revolution with President Miguel Díaz-Canel, the bishops presented to the communist government “their criteria and vision regarding the reality that the Cuban people are experiencing.”

“In accordance with the usual procedure in this type of meeting,” the bishops did not limit themselves to specific situations of the Church “but shared with all respect, sincerity, and clarity their concerns and assessments about the current moment in which we are living,” the statement issued April 28 by the General Secretariat of the Episcopate said.

The Cuban government reported April 26 on the meeting between Díaz-Canel and other members of the regime with the president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Emilio Aranguren; the archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García; and other bishops.

Also in attendance for the government were Manuel Marrero Cruz, the prime minister; Rogelio Polanco Fuentes, a member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party and head of its Ideological Department; and Caridad Diego Bello, the head of the Office of Attention to Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Party.

According to the Cuban presidency, “issues related to the work of the Catholic Church, the socioeconomic situation of the country, the strengthening of values in society, among other matters of common interest, were addressed.”

In addition, “the meeting took place in a climate of mutual respect in accordance with the policy of the Revolution towards religion and believers and full religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba,” the president's office said.

The bishops said in their statement that they “listened to the information, criteria, and assessments” given by Díaz-Canel and Marrero, “who also fully explained their visions and future prospects regarding the issues addressed.”

The bishops thanked the government leaders for “the possibility of exchange” and “the opportunity to be heard,” and said they renewed “their commitment to the Cuban people and to everything that favors a more serene climate of peace, harmony, respect for all, and hope.”

According to the report recently published by DatoWorld, Cuba leads the “Poverty Index in Latin America,” with approximately 72% of its population below the extreme poverty line that was established by the World Bank at a daily income of less than $1.90.

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As the communist regime does not publish figures on the level of poverty, DatoWorld took the report published in October 2022 by the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights as a reference.

Release of young prisoners

During his February visit to Cuba to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the apostolic journey of St. John Paul II, Cardinal Beniamino Stella told the press that Pope Francis very much desires the release of the young people who were arrested during the July 11, 2021, protests.

Reuters reported April 27 that the assistant secretary of the Cuban Bishops’ Conference, Father Ariel Suárez, confirmed by telephone that the bishops and the communist regime discussed the situation of the detainees and that the conversation was open and frank.

“The Church is grateful for the possibility of the meeting and is above all grateful that the door for subsequent meetings has been left open,” Suárez said regarding possible amnesty for the imprisoned protesters. “That willingness exists and was expressed by both parties.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.