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Cablegate: Pope Seeks Greater Freedom for Church in Cuba, End To

VZCZCXRO6719
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHROV #0131/01 3491559
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 151559Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1209
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0045
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0106
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 1248

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000131

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINR ETRD CU VT
SUBJECT: POPE SEEKS GREATER FREEDOM FOR CHURCH IN CUBA, END TO
EMBARGO

VATICAN 00000131 001.3 OF 002


1. (SBU) Making a strong appeal for greater religious freedom in

Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI vigorously defended the role of the
Catholic

Church in Cuba during the December 10 presentation of
credentials by

the country's new Ambassador to the Holy See, Eduardo Delgado

Bermudez. While the Pope expressed gratitude for increased

cooperation between the Catholic Church and the GOC, he
articulated

the Holy See's desire for an eventual formal agreement allowing
the

Church complete freedom to operate "following forms similar to
those

established with other States." Holy See officials have told

Embassy Vatican previously that it is important for the Holy See
to

reemphasize its position on Cuba every so often, particularly
its

desire for greater religious freedom, but without expecting any
real

short-term gains.

2. (U) Turning to Cuban-U.S. relations, Pope Benedict told
Eduardo

Delgado Bermudez that "certain signs of openness in [Cuba's]

relations with the neighbouring United States presage new

opportunities for a mutually beneficial rapprochement." Quoting
his

predecessor, John Paul II, the Pope urged Cuba to open up to the

world and the world to open up to Cuba. Keeping to the Holy
See's

long-standing policy, the Pontiff criticized the U.S. embargo on

Cuba saying it had its biggest negative impact on the poor.
(Note:

Official remarks at Holy See credential ceremonies are exchanged
but

not read aloud at the time. End note)

3. (SBU) In remarks eerily similar to his predecessor's four
years

earlier, Ambassador Delgado lauded Fidel Castro's untiring work
to

make the world a better place, and expressed Cuba's appreciation
for

the Catholic Church's work on the island, particularly its

charitable and humanitarian efforts. The new ambassador said the

U.S. embargo "constituted an act of genocide" because it caused

hunger, sickness and poverty for the "heroic and generous" Cuban

people. Delgado effusively praised Pope Benedict's recent

encyclical letter on social issues, "Caritas in Veritate,"
implying

that the Church and the revolution promoted the same agenda.

Delgado compared the 58,000 Cubans working abroad in "aid and


VATICAN 00000131 002.3 OF 002


development projects" to Catholic missionaries "offering
assistance

in the remotest areas of the world."

4. (SBU) Comment. Comparing an atheist, revolution-exporting,
human

rights-violating regime's mercenaries to Catholic missionaries
is a

bit of a stretch, in our view. But the Ambassador's comments

drawing parallels between "Caritas in Veritate" and Cuban

revolutionary goals may have been a subtle cry for help to
Church

organizations like Caritas to provide assistance to the poor in

Cuba, as Cuban social services are failing. End comment.

5. (U) Biographical information: Ambassador Eduardo Delgado
Bermudez

previously served as Director General of the Cuban Foreign
Ministry.

He holds a degree in history, served as an officer in the

Revolutionary Armed Forces, and was Cuba's ambassador to Japan.
He

has lectured in history and international affairs, was an
advisor on

political and economic issues for Cuba's aid and development

outreach to Asia, Oceania and Africa, and served as section
chief at

the Ministry of Foreign Trade. He was born February 20, 1943
and is

married with one daughter.
DIAZ

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