Monsters And Critics
Aug 7, 2006, 1:00 GMT
Havana/Caracas - The Roman Catholic Church in Cuba would not accept or support any foreign intervention in the island's affairs, Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino told journalists Sunday.
Also Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he had 'reliable' information about Cuban leader Fidel Castro's significant recovery after surgery last week for intestinal bleeding, causing him to temporarily delegate power to his brother Raul.
In his regular Sunday television broadcast, Chavez repeated well- known slogans of the Cuban Revolution, greeted the ailing Castro as 'Fidel' and spoke of soon sharing a drink with his 'companion, comrade and friend.'
'I know you are recovering,' Chavez said. 'We have reliable information about your clear and significant recovery.'
A newspaper in Brazil reported Saturday that a source close to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said that Castro had abdominal cancer. Lula's office and Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage quickly denied the report.
Castro's 80th birthday is August 13.
Cardinal Ortega said in Havana that the country's Catholic bishops are in contact with the political leadership provisionally headed by Raul Castro. He admitted that contacts with the island's political leaders have included references to Fidel Castro's health condition but gave no further details.
In a pastoral message, the Cuban Catholic Bishops' Conference asked the faithful to pray for Castro's health and also to pray for for those temporarily standing in for him to be 'illuminated' in their tasks.
The message from the religious hierarchy also called for peace and calm.
'We Cuban Catholics pray for the homeland. We pray for Cuba at this moment and for those that govern it,' Cardinal Ortega told journalists, when asked about communist Castro's current condition.
Fidel Castro has ruled the island since the Cuban Revolution in 1959. He visited the Vatican in 1996, and the late Pope John Paul II travelled to Cuba in 1998.
© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur