Beneath looming images of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the Virgin Mary, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday stood in Revolution Square here, the heart of the Castro government, and issued a ringing call for “authentic freedom” in what is consistently ranked as one of the most repressive nations on earth.
“The truth is a desire of the human person, the search for which always supposes the exercise of authentic freedom,” Benedict said in his homily at an outdoor Mass here, a line greeted by smiles from some in the crowd. “Many, however, prefer shortcuts, trying to avoid this task.”
The Mass was the culmination of a three-day visit to Cuba meant to shore up support for the Roman Catholic Church here. With President RaÃºl Castro sitting in the front row ”” and a day after a top Cuban official said that Cuba would not pursue political change any time soon ”” Benedict also decried “those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in ”˜their truth,’ and try to impose it on others.”