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Cuban group occupies church to seek audience with pope
A Cuban worker walk past Our Lady of Charity where 13 dissidents are demanding to deliever a message to the Pope.
March 15th, 2012
11:33 AM ET

Cuban group occupies church to seek audience with pope

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

Havana (CNN) – Thirteen Cubans Thursday refused to leave a Havana church where they had spent the last three days in hopes of gaining a meeting with Pope Benedict.

The pope is due to travel to the island at the end of the month following a visit to Mexico.

The group described itself as "dissidents" and refused to leave Our Lady of Charity Church after arriving there Tuesday, according to a news release from the Havana Archdiocese.

The Partido Republicano de Cuba organization claimed the people occupying the church were members of the group.

In a phone interview with CNN en Español Thursday, the group's director said the organization wants political prisoners released, greater access to information and freedom to travel.

"We are not trying to tarnish the pope's visit. We are trying to get the church to serve as a mediator for dialogue between the Cuban government and the opposition," Vladimir Calderon said. "Really, we cannot find other routes, because the Cuban government, the regime, has not let us have access. ... That's why we haven't left the church. That's why we've done it like this, because there is no other way."

Church officials are trying to negotiate with the group, the archdiocese said, calling the action an attempt to embarrass the church before the pope's visit.

"No one has the right to turn temples into political trenches," the church release said. "It's clearly an illegitimate and irresponsible act."

In the release, Church spokesman Orlando Marquez said other groups around the country had carried similar protests on Tuesday but then had left those churches

So far, the church said it declined to ask the Cuban government to remove the group, the statement said.

The church's statement was also published Thursday in Granma, the official newspaper of the communist party in Cuba.

There was no visible police presence outside the church Thursday, and parishioners entered and left the building.

An elderly woman at the entrance to the church said the press was not allowed to enter.

In a statement Thursday, the chairwoman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee called on the pope to meet with critics of Cuba's government during his visit.

"It is my hope that Pope Benedict will show his support for the Cuban people by meeting with peaceful dissident groups, including those practicing their faith while bringing attention to human rights violations," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said.

–CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet and CNN en Español's Lucia Navarro contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things .

    March 19, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Jesus

      You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!

      March 19, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    March 16, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!! .........

      March 16, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things !
      Proven !

      March 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Oops, I meant to post 'maybe proven, sometimes'. All I know is, my alarm went off, telling me to post again.

      March 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • just sayin

      Whether by evil, the name thief or by good, the encouragement to prayer the message that "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" is being spread. Praise God

      March 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things !
      Proven !"

      You've been proven a LIAR over and over again on this blog.

      March 17, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • just sayin

      prayer cured my baldness.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • just sayin

      When you begin your response with the amazing Truth that "prayer changes things" the lie you then post petty much becomes voided.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Jesus

      "the lie you then post petty much becomes voide"

      You're the LIAR – More proof prayer doesn't work. An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      March 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      moron

      March 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Jesus

      "moron"

      Now we can both agree that "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" is a moron oops but you are one in the same...so that mean you're a moron too.

      March 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      For clarity It that takes the Lords name in vain is a proven moron

      March 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Jesus

      "For clarity It that takes the Lords name in vain is a proven moron"

      You're a proven LIAR who is clueless and headed to hell.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  3. Kebos

    Well, I suppose if you want to meet the Pope, a church is a good place to go.

    BY the way, the pope doesn't care about human rights so that message will most certainly fall on deaf ears.

    March 16, 2012 at 6:29 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.....

    March 16, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      The walls are breathing again. The aliens will be coming for me again, very soon. I wrap my body in saran wrap, which makes me invisible. I see dead aardvarks – they speak to me, tell me prayer works.

      Are the voices in my head too looud for you?

      March 16, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • Jesus

      No it doesn't just scroll up and you'll see...An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      March 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  5. Ungodly Discipline

    As the occupiers drink their own urine and play with the fat chick’s boobies, the Nazi pope is busy in Mexico examining toast and pancakes from different villages to determine if they are miracle manifestations of Christ. Our world is in good hands!

    March 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Kebos

      Ha! Good one. God supposedly created everything in under 7 days but now all he can do is create shabby renderings of his son on random pieces of pastry.

      I call that underachieving. Or perhaps someone, in this case, some god, who has just given up.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Nii

      "Happiness is knowing a flower will grow where u planted a seed" my agnostic father pointed out from a mural. I said loving your neighbor as yourself is de highest joy n "Charity begins @ home" so we can start loving each other in our house and help those outside it too. Thats what makes man great.

      March 16, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Castiel

      He is not on any flatbread.

      March 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  6. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    March 15, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Stuff changes things and stuff

      March 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Paris Hilton Comes Out Strongly Against Being Against Things And Stuff, Totally!

      Stuff, like, changes prayer and things and stuff, for sure, OMG.

      Proved. Powerable.

      Prayer is like a diaper – it needs to be changed, uh, or it's full of sh!t . . . uh . . . proven ca-ca . . .

      Goshy, even I, Paris Hilton, am not dumb enough to produce the ignorant impossible stupidity of the Prayer Troll.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • just sayin

      as long as the name thief keeps declaring "atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" we can ignore the drivel that follows and praise God that one Truth is being promoted.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Fluffy, the gerbil of doom

      Prayer changes dirty diapers.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Freudian Slip

      "One Truth" is for infantile an'al retentives, who require the world all wrapped up in a neat little box, with neat little bow.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • just sayin

      One Truth echoed of many

      March 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • just sayin

      Umm...what? Did I just post that? Musta been drunk.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things"

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!!

      March 15, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • just sayin

      When you print a Truth, like "Prayer changes things" then the lie that follows pales in comparison. Praise God

      March 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      When you type a lie like "Prayer changes things", the truth blows the lie to smithereens. Particularly lies that are posted by trolls who can't produce any evidence for their claims.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • just sayin

      All the "evidence" has long since been presented and accepted. That boat has long since sailed and does not need to return to pick you up. Look up the facts yourself if you are interested.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'm hardly interested in anything you post, nitwit. If you really believed your crap, you'd post your own proof. You don't because there isn't any, you idiot.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • TR6

      @just sayin:” All the "evidence" has long since been presented and accepted. That boat has long since sailed and does not need to return to pick you up. “

      So as a good Christian you’re saying that you have real, solid, verifiable evidence of Christianity that would convince a skeptic of the truth of your religion; but, you refuse to present it and instead condemn atheists to eternal hell unless they go dig for it themselves, even if the reason they disbelieve is that they have been digging for years and found none of the evidence you claim has “long since been presented and accepted”… why am I reminded of Herald Camping and bishop Long?

      March 17, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Jesus

      "Look up the facts"

      OH, like these facts...An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      March 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  7. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Atheism changes things

    March 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Toad

      You are atheist filth.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Toad, you're a filthy toad. Back to the swamp.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      The name has been stolen but the Truth Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things stands tall. Praise God

      March 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      I just know that because it's my other handle

      March 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • just sayin

      I get so confused

      March 15, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nope. EVERY POST HERE WAS WRITTEN BY MEEEEEEEE! I AM THE NAME THIEF! I OWN THIS BLOG!!!

      March 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • just sayin

      Everyone already knows your low character tom and guess what? No one cares.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Don't be silly. Half the time it's me.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      No, it isn't, you lying sack. It's me. I'm the biggest troll here.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Toad

      Bullsh!t. I croak louder than any of you. I'm the biggest troll.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Low character"? Pray, oh holy one, do define a 'low character'. I can hardly wait.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  8. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Today's election news with a religious bent is at http://santorum.com
    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    March 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Toad

      Return to your vomit atheist filth.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Cross the road slowly, Toad.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Toad

      *SQUISH-blap*

      March 15, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Toad

      Ppppshhppppppatttttssss

      Goosh.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      *SPPPLAAATTT*

      Whoops. Beg pardon. I just squashed all of just sayin's claims.

      Goodness. Who knew it was so easy to discredit the dolt?

      March 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  9. RightTurnClyde

    What? this is the communist workman's utopia of the western hemisphere.. the darling of the liberals. This is teh home base of Che Guevarra .. the homing beacon for Chavez and FARC and all of those nice communistas.. and they dare protest? Don't they realize they are getting everything for FREE courtesy of their government? They are all starving equally (that's justice, right?) No need for food ..Fidel let's them starve (Cuba si, Yankee no). This is how Greece and Spain and France can solve their problems. Just let them starve. Re-elect OUR fearless leader - he wants to take you there .. he wants you to have no gasoline (no food), no companies (no jobs), no mortgages (no houses), no health insurance (no health care) ... but you got him (the Messiah) .. he's gonna make us like Cuba! Cuba si .. economy no!

    March 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  10. William Demuth

    Just what those poor Cubans need. Another psychotic old man who wants's to "guide" them.

    They should put the Pope and Fidel in a bull fighting ring with their arms tied together and a razor blade each.

    It would be more fun than American Idol

    March 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      William – My money is on the Pope.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What money? You don't have two nickels to rub together, you fraud.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      You're right Tom, I'm broke after paying your mom for the that BJ last night...

      March 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nec roph iliac, are you?

      March 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  11. hippypoet

    this whole waiting inside of a church for the nazi to come and "help" seems rather eerily similar to me – anyone else?

    he is coming to purify them! :)

    March 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Wait...I mean, things change prayer?

      March 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • just sayin

      Someone new is spreading the Truth that Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. Everything else it posts is a lie but the heading is true and more people will see it. It does not take away from the Truth but rather reinforces the power of prayer. Praise God

      March 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • just sayin

      I forgot my meds again. Praise the Lord.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Meds change things.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • just sayin

      Tom, Tom is a LIAR. He did NOT write all these posts.

      I need my nitroglycerin, STAT.

      March 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Did so.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • just sayin

      Nuh-uh.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Toad

      Yuh-huh, just sayin, you wad of pus.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things,.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • just sayin

      I admit, I have no comeback.

      I just rely on lies.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • The Almighty Narshlaug

      No.... it was I who wrote all of your posts! I am you and you are part of me! I am the Almighty! I AM THE NARSHLAUG!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 16, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  13. J.W

    Uh oh why did they change the picture?

    March 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      The fat chick got mad.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      just sayin got mad? How could you tell? Did the veins in its neck start pulsating? Or did the layers of fat obscure that?

      March 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  14. J.W

    They always find beautiful women to put in their pictures.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  15. Reality

    Cuba needs a "Cuban Spring" in order to become a democracy. B-16 isn't going to be of any help in that regard.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • glasnost

      They need a perestroika

      March 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      The Arab Spring was so successful in bringing about democracy wasn't it?

      March 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Reality

      OK, let us go with another "American Revolution"!!!

      March 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • William Demuth

      SPA Knight

      So throwing off tyrants is a bad thing now?

      They shall have the theocracy they want, at least for a while.

      Alas, you shall not, at least for a while.

      March 15, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      But wait ..have some respect ... Fidel got rid of Batista. He got rid of casinos and banks .. and gangsters. He got rid of private companies that e.x.p.l.o.i.t.e.d. Cubans for sugar p.r.o.f.i.t.s. He got rid of jobs, food, money, banks, loans, cars, gasoline, home repairs, debt, doctors, hospitals, dentists .. all of them exploiters (charged money - not free - shame). Castro has been a savior (a "messiah") .. they don't need God or a church .. Fidel gave them everything they have (nothing). They are so poor that have not got r.a.t.s or c.o.c.k.r.o.a.c.h.e.s ... he got rid of them too.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • YNot

      'Cept for me. I done been prayin' all the time, but I got de rickets anyhow. Syphilis, too.

      I caught it from just sayin. Tol' me it was OK that there wuz white crap oozing. Done said it was nachral.

      I been sick ever since.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  16. Ungodly Discipline

    Take the fat chick in there too. Keep things interesting while you are waiting for the nazi.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • H2O

      That chick ain't fat.

      March 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Muscle Man

      That is not a chick, that is Hercules!

      March 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Hey, what happened to the fat chick?? Oh well, take the dude in I guess.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.