SANTIAGO, Cuba (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is expressing sympathy with the “just aspirations and legitimate desires” of all Cubans, including prisoners.
Benedict says he carries the sufferings and joys of islanders in his heart, and specifically mentions inmates among others.
But he is not singling out “political prisoners” as his predecessor John Paul II did during his 1998 visit to Cuba.
Benedict is also urging more progress in relations between the church and a government that was officially atheist until the early 1990s. And he’s criticizing the excesses of capitalism, a more palatable message for Cuban authorities than his recent comment that Marxist ideology is outdated.
He spoke Monday upon arrival in the eastern city of Santiago.