Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Meets Archbishop

Madrid EFE in Spanish 0056 GMT 24 Nov 71 C--FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

[Text] Santiago, Chile, 23 Nov--Christianity and Marxism agree in the
struggle to liberate man from dehumanizing exploitation, Cuban Prime
Minister Fidel Castro said tonight at the end of a half hour meeting with
Cardinal Archbishop of Santiago Raul Silva Henrique.

Fidel Castro, who was wearing his usual olive drab uniform, met with a
group of newsmen in a hall of the archbishopric minutes after having
greeted the Catholic primate of Chile. Castro had in his hands a copy of
the Bible given to him by the cardinal. "It is a beautiful gift," he said.

Responding to newsmen, Castro said: "It seems to me that the closest thing
to the history of Christianity in its first stage is the history of
communism in the present era--slandered, persecuted, forced to live in the
catacombs [words indistinct] conciliate religious feelings, faith, with its
social ideas, with is political ideas, with our concepts of the country, on
the struggle for independence, social justice, and exploitation of man by

"Let us not forget the words of Christ and the revolutionary character of
the doctrine which evolved the religion of the poor, of the persecuted, of
the humble," he added.

The Cuban Prime Minister quoted two parables and the story of a miracle to
illustrate the parallelism of the social struggle and of Christianity: "Do
not forget what Christ said: 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the
eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.' He
multiplied the loaves and the fishes, which is what we also want to do. He
also made a communist distribution in the parable about the same amount
being paid to the man who worked a day, and those who worked (?half) a day
and less. The distribution was made in a communist manner. It possibly was
in accordance with the need. What do you think? A communist formula."

Fidel also referred to the union of all forces in the struggle for
liberation. "We understand that the mission of the revolutionaries is to
unite all the forces after a just struggle." He said, "the struggle for the
sovereignty and independence of our people. It has also been explained that
in many Latin American countries the worker and peasant masses have the
same anti-imperialist and struggle position. They also have their religion
and many of these masses are Christians.

"The mission of the enemies of our peoples has been to divide us, split us,
block us. The mission of those of us who want to do good is to achieve the
independence of our people and all revolutionaries," Castro added.

Asked how many priests there are in Cuba, Castro answered: "The truth is, I
have not kept count. There must be hundreds of priests. In addition, there
is a Cuban priests seminary. The truth is that there was another problem in
Cuba, the majority of the clergy was not Cuban."

In conclusion, Castro referred to the Bible given him by Cardinal Silva
Henriquez. He said that as a boy he had read the Bible many times. "I was
in a religious school until my fifth year. I made my first communion and
was baptized." He said that the teachings presented at the Jesuit school
which he attended were dogmatic but that the school taught him sports,
developed his character.... They were disciplined. I would say that in
certain aspects of the development of my character, they played a positive