There are rumours afoot that Fidel Castro may rejoin the Catholic Church.
The chatter in Rome is that Castro is preparing to be readmitted to the Church when Pope Benedict visits Cuba next month.
Speculation went viral as two Italian daily newspapers, La Repubblica and La Stampa reported that the committed revolutionary atheist and ailing octogenarian had ‘seen the light’.
Castro’s daughter, Alina Fernandez told La Repubblica that lately her father had “come closer to religion and to God.”
The reports however have met with skepticism.
“Relations between religion and politics have long been something of an anomaly in Cuba,” says Riordan Roett, a Latin America scholar at Johns Hopkins. “But conversion and absolution? That’s pretty farfetched.”
Nor does Brazil’s Frei Betto, a Franciscan friar and close friend of Castro’s, pay much heed to the suggestion that the Cuban revolutionary is ready to bow his head. “In my opinion, he’s an agnostic,” says Betto.
While Castro famously cancelled Christmas as a national holiday in Cuba, a turning point was the papacy of Pope John Paul II with whom, it is reported, Castro “had a fantastic chemistry,” and it was during this time that outright repression of religion gave way to a tense, but pragmatic coexistence between clergy and the comandantes.
Earlier in the month, Reuters’ reported that Pope Benedict wanted to see Fidel Castro when he visits Cuba in March. At the time the meeting was still pending the health of the communist dictator.
Benedict is still only scheduled to meet the younger Castro, President Raul Castro, 80, who is President of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers.
News category: World.