VATICAN CITY (CNS): On the eve of his visit to Cuba, a leading Vatican official said he hoped to establish a new level of Church-state relations in the Caribbean nation.
Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone made the remarks to reporters on February 19, the same day Fidel Castro resigned as president of Cuba.
Cardinal Bertone said he was taking a special blessing from Pope Benedict XVI to all Cubans, including Castro.
The cardinal was to visit several cities in Cuba and meet with government officials from February 20-26.
He said Church-state relations in Cuba were complex but had a promising future.
“Relations are generally good,” he said. “There are problems. We hope to establish a working dialogue that gives positive results and that is maintained.”
Cardinal Bertone said Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cuba in 1998 brought some small steps forward for the Church.
In 2005, when dialogue had stalled, Cardinal Bertone travelled to Cuba and pressed Castro to resume regular talks with the Cuban bishops’ conference. A few months later, he said, the government and the bishops had a long meeting.