The religious leader will make this official and pastoral visit at the invitation of the Cuban government and the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops, Perez Roque told local and foreign reporters at the venue of the Cuban Foreign Ministry in Havana.

He added that the visit will take place in the context of the celebrations for the tenth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to the island in 1998.

Perez Roque added that during his visit Cardinal Bertone will meet with Cuban authorities and will participate in several activities of a pastoral nature such as masses in Havana City, Villa Clara and Guantanamo. He will also bless a monument dedicated to Pope John Paul II in the city of Santa Clara.

The diplomat noted that this new high-level bilateral contact is an expression of the excellent relations between the Vatican and the Cuban government, which he also described as fluid, cordial and respectful.

The Cuban high-ranking official stressed that both sides coincide in several topics such as the need to eradicate poverty, the peoples’ right to development and the universal, inalienable and indivisible nature of human rights for all people, including economic, social and cultural rights. “We also agree on the need to guarantee food, health care and education for all the inhabitants of the planet and we criticize consumerism and neoliberal policies,” he added.

Perez Roque pointed out that Cuba and the Vatican are in favor of the protection of the family and the promotion of culture and spiritual values as well as the preservation of the environment. “We also defend peace and condemn violence, threats and the use of force in relations among states,” he stressed.

“Likewise, we condemn terrorism in all its forms,” the Cuban top diplomat highlighted.

He said that this visit also reflects the fluid and respectful communication of the Cuban Government and State with the Cuban Catholic Church and all the religious and fraternal organizations on the island.

Perez Roque added that the Cuban State recognizes, respects and guarantees religious freedom and freedom of worship to all its citizens.

He concluded saying that ten years after John Paul II’s visit to Cuba, the US government maintains its financial, trade and economic blockade of the island, a measure that the religious leader described as unjust and ethically unacceptable.

Cuban Agency News
La Agencia Cubana de Noticias (ACN) es una división de la Agencia de Información Nacional (AIN) de Cuba fundada el 21 de mayo de 1974.

Cuban News Agency