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‘Damas de Blanco’: Cuban women arrested before papal Mass released

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Catholic News Service

HAVANA — Cuban police arrested and held members of a Catholic human rights group for several hours March 28, preventing them from attending an outdoor morning Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.

Alejandrina Garcia de la Rivas and Laura Maria Labrada Pollan, members of the Ladies in White — “Damas de Blanco” — were arrested before 6 a.m. March 28, said Blanca Reyes, a member of the organization who now lives Madrid.

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Pope meets with Fidel Castro

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Catholic News Service

HAVANA—Pope Benedict XVI met former Cuban President Fidel Castro in the apostolic nunciature in Havana March 28 and answered the ailing former leader’s questions, the Vatican spokesman said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said he was watching the two men through a window, and afterward he spoke with the pope about the conversation, which seemed very animated.

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Pope asks Cuban leader for more church freedom

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Catholic News Service

HAVANA — Pope Benedict XVI spent more than 40 minutes meeting privately with Cuban President Raul Castro and asked the Cuban leader for further freedoms for the Catholic Church in Cuba and attention to certain humanitarian situations.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters late March 27 that while he could not give the press details about the humanitarian cases raised during the meeting, the pope did give Castro specific names of people in detention or suffering for other reasons the government was in a position to help alleviate.

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Women arrested before papal Mass in Havana

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Catholic News Service

HAVANA — A few hours before they planned to attend an outdoor Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, members of a Catholic dissident group were reportedly arrested by Cuban police.

Alejandrina Garcia de la Rivas and Laura Maria Labrada Pollan, members of the Ladies in White — “Damas de Blanco” — were arrested before 6 a.m. March 28, said Blanca Reyes, a member of the organization who now lives Madrid, Spain.

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Pope asks Our Lady of Charity to help suffering Cubans

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EL COBRE, Cuba — Entrusting people to Mary’s maternal care is a normal Catholic practice, but when Pope Benedict XVI prayed that Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre would wrap her golden mantle around the people of Cuba, it was particularly poignant.

For 400 years, Cubans, believers and nonbelievers alike, have brought their sorrows and joys before the little statue of Mary, and even Cuba’s communist rulers have claimed her as a cultural icon of the Cuban struggle for freedom and equality.

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Pope recognizes Cubans’ struggles, calls freedom a necessity

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Catholic News Service

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba — Celebrating an outdoor Mass on his first day in Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the struggles of the country’s Catholics after half a century of communism and described human freedom as a necessity for both salvation and social justice.

The pope spoke March 26 in Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, in Cuba’s second-largest city. He had arrived in the country a few hours earlier, after spending three days in Mexico.

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Pope calls for complete religious freedom in Cuba

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Catholic News Service

HAVANA — Preaching at Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square, location of the headquarters of Cuba’s Communist Party, Pope Benedict XVI called for full religious freedom and greater respect for human rights on the island.

“In Cuba steps have been taken to enable the church to carry out her essential mission of expressing the faith openly and publicly,” the pope said during his homily March 28. “Nonetheless, this must continue forward.”

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Pope thanks Latin American bishops

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Catholic News Service

LEON, Mexico — Pope Benedict XVI thanked Latin America’s bishops for their hard work in a troubled region and urged them to continue the evangelization campaign he launched with them at their first meeting five years earlier.

The pope spoke during a vespers service at Leon’s cathedral March 25, the second and last full day of his visit to Mexico. The congregation included about 130 Mexican bishops, along with representatives of other national conferences in the Latin American bishops’ council, CELAM.

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Trust in God to help change society, pope says in Mexico’s heartland

March 26th, 2012 Posted in Featured, International News

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Catholic News Service

SILAO, Mexico — Celebrating Mass in the Catholic heartland of Mexico, Pope Benedict XVI told a nation and a continent suffering from poverty, corruption and violence, to trust in God and the intercession of Mary to help them bring about a “more just and fraternal society.”

“When addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us,” the pope said in his homily during the outdoor Mass at Guanajuato Bicentennial Park March 25, the second full day of his second papal visit to Latin America. “We must have recourse to the one who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author.”

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Pope in Mexico as ‘pilgrim of faith, of hope, and of love’

March 26th, 2012 Posted in Featured, International News

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Catholic News Service

SILAO, Mexico — Arriving in Mexico on his second papal visit to Latin America March 23, Pope Benedict XVI said he came as a “pilgrim of faith, of hope, and of love,” promoting the cause of religious freedom, social progress and the Catholic Church’s charitable works.

Bells tolled and the assembled crowd cheered as Pope Benedict XVI appeared through the door of his Alitalia plane at Guanajuato Internal Airport in central Mexico. He was greeted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and other dignitaries, including Archbishop Jose Martin Rabago of Leon and Archbishop Carlos Aguilar Retes of Tlalnepantla, president of the Mexican bishops’ conference and the Latin American bishops’ council, CELAM.

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