FaithWorld

Cuba authorises first prison religious services in 50 years

By Reuters Staff
September 16, 2009

cuba-prisonThe Cuban government has given permission for religious services to be held in the island’s prisons for the first time in 50 years, a church official has said.

The services will be allowed in all prisons where the inmates request them, said Marcial Miguel Hernandez, president of the Cuban Council of Churches.

(Photo: Combinado del Este men’s prison outside Havana, 31 March 2004/Claudia Daut)

“For us, it’s an expression and act of good faith by the Cuban authorities,” he told Reuters.

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Communist-ruled Cuba has slowly been warming to religion. President Raul Castro attended a Catholic beatification ceremony in Havana last November, a month after attending the opening of a Russian Orthodox church there. In February 2008, when Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone visited Cuba, Castro confirmed that an invitation to Pope Benedict extended by his ailing brother Fidel still stands.

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