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President Raul Castro praised for role in religious issues. At a gathering of religious leaders Tuesday in Havana, Raúl Castro urged Cubans "to maintain the natural unity advocated by the nation's Constitution and Fidel Castro between the different religions and the revolutionary process," Prensa Latina reported.

"It is necessary to continue to struggle for the right of all religions to peacefully coexist on the island," the president was quoted as telling reporters.

"We ratify the natural right of all religions to live peacefully in our country, peacefully among one another and among us."

In a speech, Caridad Diego, chief of the Religious Affairs Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, emphasized that the Catholic Church has been granted access to public radio and authorized to organize processions and pilgrimages during certain feast days.

She also reminded listeners that Cuba's various denominations have joined "the many battles waged by the Cuban people, among them the liberation of Elián González and the struggle for the return of the Five Heroes unjustly imprisoned in the United States."

According to the daily Granma, "everyone's right to profess a religious faith without fear of discrimination was a wish of Fidel's [incorporated] into the Constitutional Reform of 1992."

The Rev. Raúl Suárez Ramos, director of the Martin Luther King Jr, Memorial Center, told Raúl Castro that the Revolution "could continue to count on the men and women of faith," Granma said. Suárez said he had sent Fidel Castro a letter of appreciation "for the prophetic ministry [Fidel has] exercised until today."

The Cuban Council of Churches presented Raúl with a Bible and asked him to deliver to his brother Fidel "a commemorative plaque in recognition of the support he has given [the Council] over the years."


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