I am not a Catholic, but I am a huge fan of Pope Benedict XVI. I have read two of his books and studied closely his watershed address at Regensburg in 2006, which established a new foundation on which to debate the theological and philosophical conflict between Islam and Christianity. I have also applauded his leadership in efforts to restore the Christian faith in Europe and I admire his continuing role in educating us on the interrelationship of faith and reason. But I am disappointed in his recent trip to Cuba in that he did not meet with the dissidents and democrats who requested an audience, nor to my knowledge did he acknowledge the Ladies in White, women who hold vigils for those dissidents in prison, who had requested a meeting. But, of course, he did meet with their persecutors and evidently only obliquely criticized the regime. According to reports, many of the dissidents were arrested for simply asking for an audience, either before or after the visit. I could be wrong, but I suspect that Pope Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, would have performed differently, because he was more inclined to the role of highly visible and provocative moral leadership on the world stage, which I would have much preferred in Cuba, but each leader has strengths in his own style and God moves in mysterious ways.
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