Pope in Mexico, Cuba

En route on March 23 to Latin America, Pope Benedict XVI called for patience with the Catholic Church’s effort to promote freedom in Communist Cuba and criticized Catholics who participate in the illegal drug trade or who ignore their moral responsibilities to seek social justice. Responding to a question about human rights in Cuba, Pope Benedict said that the “church is always on the side of freedom—freedom of conscience, freedom of religion.” He added, “We want to help in the spirit of dialogue to avoid the trauma and to help move toward a fraternal and just society” in Cuba. Asked about Latin America’s dramatic inequalities of wealth, Pope Benedict lamented what he called a widespread moral “schizophrenia” that stresses personal morality while ignoring social conscience. Commenting on the Mexican drug war that has claimed an estimated 50,000 people over the past five years, Pope Benedict said that the church has a responsibility to “unmask evil, unmask the idolatry of money that enslaves man” as well as the “false promises, the lie, the swindle that lie behind drugs.”

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