Cardinal Bertone: 'Cuba embargo is unjust and unacceptable'

 The United State's economic embargo against Cuba is "unjust and ethically unacceptable" Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB, Secretary of State to the Vatican, said on his return to Rome yesterday, after a six-day trip to Cuba to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit there. The late Pope's trip was the subject of a Message sent by Benedict XVI to the Cuban bishops on 21 February. During his visit, on Monday, Cardinal Bertone met Felipe Perez Roque, foreign minister of Cuba. Afterwards the Cardinal announced that both Raul Castro, the new Cuban president, and the Catholic Church wish to respond to the needs of the Cuban people "bearing in mind the difficulties, above all those caused by the economic embargo" against Cuba. Repeating the words of John Paul II, the Cardinal described the embargo as "unjust and ethically unacceptable". Ten years ago Pope John Paul II described the economic blockade is "an oppression for the people of Cuba", not a means "to help the Cuban people achieve dignity and independence" but "a violation of the people's independence". Answering journalists' questions, on his return to Rome, the Cardinal said that he had not asked the Cuban government for an amnesty but for "gestures of reconciliation", adding that the Church considers the recent release of certain prisoners as "a positive gesture". Cardinal Bertone also made it clear that he had personally asked the government of the United States to facilitate the reunion of Cuban emigres with their relatives still on the island, saying this would be a humanitarian gesture and everything possible was being done to achieve it. Wednesday's meeting with the new Cuban president, Raul Castro, marked the close of the Cardinal's visit to Cuba. Source: VIS

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