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The pope is spending four days in a country whose Communist dictatorship has remained unrelenting in its repression of free speech, political dissent and other human rights despite a warming of relations with the Vatican and the United States. Yet by the end of his third day, the pope had said or done absolutely nothing that might discomfit his official hosts.
Pope Francis met with 89-year old Fidel Castro, who holds no office in Cuba, but not with any members of the dissident community — in or outside of prison. According to the Web site 14ymedio.com, two opposition activists were invited to greet the pope at Havana’s cathedral Sunday but were arrested on the way. Dozens of other dissidents were detained when they attempted to attend an open air Mass. They needn’t have bothered: The pope said nothing in his homily about their cause, or even political freedom more generally.
Care for a contrast? Just look at this picture of Francis’s predecessor, St. John Paul II, embracing Lech Walesea, the leading dissident in Communist Poland. It is possible to reign as supreme pontiff, remaining, fundamentally, above politics — and yet to stand with those fighting for human liberty.
Photo above: AFP/Getty via the TelegraphPublished in