Fidel Castro will be received back into the communion of the Roman Catholic Church during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the island in March, the Italian press has reported.
On 1 Feb 2012 the left-liberal daily newspaper, La Republicca, reported the octogenarian communist has turned to God for solace.
The newspaper quoted Castro’s daughter Alina as saying that “during this last period, Fidel has come closer to religion: he has rediscovered Jesus at the end of his life. It doesn’t surprise me because dad was raised by Jesuits.”
The article also quotes unnamed sources in the Vatican as saying the Catholic Church is prepared should Castro seek to reconcile. “Fidel is at the end of his strength. Nearly at the end of his life. His exhortations in the party paperGranma, are increasingly less frequent. We know that in this last period he has come closer to religion and God,” the source told La Republicca.
Benedict is schedule to visit Cuba following a tour of Mexico. On 27 March the pope is scheduled to meet with the President of Cuba, Raul Castro at the Palacio de la Revolución. Speculation in the Italian press about a possible reconciliation is focused on a meeting between the 85 year old Castro and the 84 year old pope during this visit.
In 1998, Castro welcomed Pope John Paul II to Cuba and attended a mass celebrated by the pope, but did not receive the Eucharist or speak to his Christian beliefs. The communist strongman’s interest in religion is long standing. Educated in Jesuit schools, Castro declared himself to be a militant atheist after he was excommunicated in 1963. However in a series of conversations with Brazilian Catholic theological Frei Betto that were later published in book form, Castro spoke of his interest in the intersection between liberation theology and Marxism.
If Castro’s daughter’s claims prove true and he is reconciled with the Catholic Church, the political ramifications would be profound, Cuba watchers note.