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Cablegate: Brigittine Sister Describes Fidel's Health, Religious

VZCZCXRO2073
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHSR
DE RUEHROV #0171 3250959
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 210959Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0845
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNWEC/WESTERN EUROPE AND CANADA COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0879

C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000171

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/21/2017
TAGS: PREL CU VT
SUBJECT: BRIGITTINE SISTER DESCRIBES FIDEL'S HEALTH, RELIGIOUS
SITUATION IN CUBA


REF: 06 VATICAN 262

CLASSIFIED BY: Christopher Sandrolini, DCM, EXEC, State.
REASON: 1.4 (d)

1. (C) Summary. A prominent Rome-based nun who is on good terms
with Fidel Castro told Ambassador about her recent trip to Cuba,
Fidel's health, improving conditions for religion in Cuba, and
relations with Cardinal Ortega. End summary.

2. (C) Ambassador and DCM called on Mother Tekla Famiglietti,
Abbess General of the Brigittine Sisters in Rome and a friend of
Fidel Castro (see reftel for previous reporting), November 19 to
hear about her visit to Cuba earlier this month. Mother Tekla
said that unlike previous visits, during this trip she did not
see Castro personally, but spoke to him by phone. She said his
personal secretary, Carlos Valenciaga Diaz, confirmed to her
that Castro does not have any cancer, is slowly recovering from
his two operations, but is still suffering from severe pains on
his right side.

3. (C) Brigittines in Cuba: Mother Tekla said she had asked
Castro for her order to have a fourth building in Cuba for
charitable purposes (feeding the hungry). Castro, in response,
urged her firmly to use the new building for religious purposes
as well. The Brigittines have ten sisters in Cuba at present,
supported in part by occasional donations from Rome. Mother
Tekla reported that the Cubans have given her order a ""nice
house"" in Pinar del Rio. According to her, Cardinal Jaime
Ortega and Bishop Jorge Serpa both asked her to come to Pinar
del Rio, and Castro gave her freedom to choose any location she
wished to begin work.

4. (C) Religion in Cuba: Mother Tekla describes Cardinal Ortega
as ""satisfied"" at having obtained materials to build a seminary,
and as having warmed somewhat toward the regime and to her own
efforts. She believes Castro has had a change of heart about
religion. Church attendance in Cuba is up, and the Brigittine
church is full -- ""we have no problems now, it is very open.""
She described Raul Castro as very open, and in agreement with
his brother on religion.

5. (C) Mother Tekla and Cuba: Mother Tekla plans to return to
Cuba in the spring. She stays in touch by email with her order
in Cuba, and with Cardinal Ortega. In Rome she speaks with the
Pope, with Cardinal Bertone (due to visit Cuba in January), and
with Archbishop Filoni. She urges the USG to abandon its
embargo, which she says is harmful to Cubans.

6. (C) Comment: we do not sense that much is new in what Mother
Tekla told us this time, but report it for what it's worth and
to remind readers that she is a regular visitor to Cuba who
appears to have good access to Fidel Castro. (In turn, he
appears to have considerable influence over her.)

ROONEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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