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Posted on Tuesday, 12.22.09
Cuba lets cardinal give X-mas message on state TV
By ANNE-MARIE GARCIA
Miami Herald Key Biscayne

Cuba's Roman Catholic cardinal will read a Christmas message on state
television for the second straight year, another small sign the once
officially atheist communist government is warming to religion. During
the Wednesday broadcast, Cardinal Jaime Ortega will give thanks that
more island families can welcome relatives living in the United States
this holiday after the administration of President Barack Obama loosened
restrictions on Cuban-Americans who want to or send money to the
island. The full message airing on government-controlled television was
confirmed by Orlando Marquez, spokesman for Havana's Conference of
Bishops, who said authorities also will show a Christmas concert held
last week at the National Cathedral. Elisa Ramos, a 67-year-old retiree,
said her son Fernando will spend Christmas in Cuba for the first time in
12 years. "It's the best thing that has happened to us," she said
Tuesday. The broadcast of Ortega's message adds to a small but growing
list of signs the government's relationship with the church is
improving. In November 2008, President unexpectedly joined
thousands of faithful for the beatification of Friar Jose Olallo Valdes
in the city of Camaguey. Raul, who succeeded his brother as president in
February 2008, also had his first diplomatic meeting with Cardinal
Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict XVI's secretary of state, who was in
Cuba marking the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit. The
government never outlawed religion, but expelled priests and closed
religious schools after took power in 1959. Tensions eased
in the early 1990s when the government removed references to atheism
from its constitution and let believers of all faiths join the Communist
Party. They improved more when Pope John Paul II visited in 1998.

Cuba lets cardinal give X-mas message on state TV – Latest News –
MiamiHerald.com (22 December 2009)
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/cuba/more/story/1394501.html

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