Papers suggest Fidel may be regaining faith
As Fidel Castro continues his recovery from illness, reports have emerged that the longstanding Cuban president has asked two Brazilian liberation theologians to be with him on the day of his death.
According to The Universe, Italian papers are suggesting that Cuba's President Castro, who attended a Catholic Jesuit college and has previously been described as a religious child, has regained an interest in the Catholic faith of his birth.
The Italian daily Corriere delle Sera says that some years ago Castro had asked Frei Betto and Leonardo Boff to be at his bedside at the hour of his death.
"One day Fidel told us: 'Betto and Leonardo, I want you both here at my side on the day of my death,'" Boff revealed last week.
In the early 1970s, when Latin American liberation theology was at its height, Castro became profoundly interested in the growing role of believers in the liberation movements in Central America and invited several theologians to visit him in Cuba.
Much of their discussion took place before 1984 before the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, at the instruction of Pope John Paul II, issued a document which was highly critical of certain aspects of the Latin American brand of liberation theology.
However Castro continued to meet with Boff and Betto.
"If I find faith again it will be thanks to you," Castro told them at the end of one of those meetings, Boff said.
Boff, 68, revealed that the Cuban leader had read a vast amount of theology books, including books written by Betto, who is a close friend of Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Sao Paolo and an advisor to Brazil's President Lula, and himself.
Betto, 62, visited Havana during the period when Castro was in hospital and had a three-hour conversation with his brother Raul.
"Certainly his openness to religion has increased in recent years," Betto stated. "But if it is a case of a personal travail, frankly I cannot say," he added.
Sick Castro regains interest in Catholicism (The Universe, 23/8/06)
Catholic dissidents in Cuba call for calm (CathNews, 16/8/06)
Cuban Church rejects foreign intervention (CathNews, 8/8/06)
Cuban Catholics hope for smooth transition (CathNews, 4/8/06)
24 Aug 2006