As Cuban dissidents arrested, Pope Francis enjoys 'friendly and informal conversation' with Fidel Castro

Pope Francis’s visit to Cuba is proving to be a very comfortable event for the brutally repressive and dictatorial regime.  The closest thing, so far, to a challenge to the oppression of dissidents has been the invitation to a dissident group, The Ladies in White, to attend a cathedral service held by the pope.  However, according to the U.K. Telegraph, 22 of 24 members of the group were detained by security police and could not attend.  Other dissidents fared as badly:

Cuban authorities prevented leading dissidents from meeting Pope Francis in Havana on Sunday, in a sign of the Communist regime’s rigid intolerance of political opposition.

Two well-known dissidents, Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva, had been invited by the Vatican to attend a vespers service led by the Pope’s in Havana’s historic baroque cathedral.

But they said they were detained by security agents and barred from attending the event.

"They told me that I didn't have a credential and that I couldn't go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the plaza of the Cathedral," Ms Roque said.

She said that she and Ms Leiva had also been invited by the Vatican to meet Pope Francis at the residence of the Holy See’s ambassador to Cuba shortly after the pontiff's arrival on Saturday, but that they were detained on that occasion as well.

But that did not affect the pontiff’s meetings with the Castro brothers.  Fox News reports:

On Sunday, Francis met with both Fidel and Raul Castro. The Vatican described the 40-minute session with Fidel Castro at the former president's home as "informal and familial," with an exchange of books and discussion about big issues facing humanity, including Francis' recent encyclical on the environment and the global economic system.

Video of the encounter broadcast on Cuban state media showed the 89-year-old Castro chatting animatedly with Francis and shaking the pope's hand, the pope standing in his white vestments and Castro sitting in a white button-down shirt and Adidas sweat top.

Francis called on Castro after Mass, during which, under the gaze of a metal portrait of revolutionary fighter Che Guevara, the pope urged Cubans to care for one another out of a sense of service, not ideology. He encouraged them to refrain from judging each other by "looking to one side or the other to see what our neighbor is doing or not doing."

Meeting under the gaze of Che Guevara, a bloodthirsty man who enjoyed executing his political opponents – personally machine gunning them for sport – is abominable.  But I suppose the pope had no choice in the venue if he was committed to seeing Castro.  The photo of the meeting is certainly will do nothing to harm Castro’s image with believing Catholic Cubans:

The closest the pope got to criticism was this:

"Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others," he said. "Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people."

That’s pretty mild stuff in the face of a brutal dictator.

Let’s just wait and see how this mild criticism compares to Pope Francis’s words of criticism when he visits the USA, starting tomorrow.  I am not exactly optimistic that he will praise liberty.

Pope Francis’s visit to Cuba is proving to be a very comfortable event for the brutally repressive and dictatorial regime.  The closest thing, so far, to a challenge to the oppression of dissidents has been the invitation to a dissident group, The Ladies in White, to attend a cathedral service held by the pope.  However, according to the U.K. Telegraph, 22 of 24 members of the group were detained by security police and could not attend.  Other dissidents fared as badly:

Cuban authorities prevented leading dissidents from meeting Pope Francis in Havana on Sunday, in a sign of the Communist regime’s rigid intolerance of political opposition.

Two well-known dissidents, Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva, had been invited by the Vatican to attend a vespers service led by the Pope’s in Havana’s historic baroque cathedral.

But they said they were detained by security agents and barred from attending the event.

"They told me that I didn't have a credential and that I couldn't go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the plaza of the Cathedral," Ms Roque said.

She said that she and Ms Leiva had also been invited by the Vatican to meet Pope Francis at the residence of the Holy See’s ambassador to Cuba shortly after the pontiff's arrival on Saturday, but that they were detained on that occasion as well.

But that did not affect the pontiff’s meetings with the Castro brothers.  Fox News reports:

On Sunday, Francis met with both Fidel and Raul Castro. The Vatican described the 40-minute session with Fidel Castro at the former president's home as "informal and familial," with an exchange of books and discussion about big issues facing humanity, including Francis' recent encyclical on the environment and the global economic system.

Video of the encounter broadcast on Cuban state media showed the 89-year-old Castro chatting animatedly with Francis and shaking the pope's hand, the pope standing in his white vestments and Castro sitting in a white button-down shirt and Adidas sweat top.

Francis called on Castro after Mass, during which, under the gaze of a metal portrait of revolutionary fighter Che Guevara, the pope urged Cubans to care for one another out of a sense of service, not ideology. He encouraged them to refrain from judging each other by "looking to one side or the other to see what our neighbor is doing or not doing."

Meeting under the gaze of Che Guevara, a bloodthirsty man who enjoyed executing his political opponents – personally machine gunning them for sport – is abominable.  But I suppose the pope had no choice in the venue if he was committed to seeing Castro.  The photo of the meeting is certainly will do nothing to harm Castro’s image with believing Catholic Cubans:

The closest the pope got to criticism was this:

"Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others," he said. "Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people."

That’s pretty mild stuff in the face of a brutal dictator.

Let’s just wait and see how this mild criticism compares to Pope Francis’s words of criticism when he visits the USA, starting tomorrow.  I am not exactly optimistic that he will praise liberty.