Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Meets Socialist Priests

Santiago Chile PRENSA LATINA in Spanish to PRENSA LATINA Havana 0248 GMT 30

[Text] Santiago, Chile, 29 Nov--by Jorge Timossi--Cuban Prime Minister Maj
Fidel Castro said tonight that Sunday's elections imposed on Uruguay "the
most reactionary and most pro-imperialist" elements and suggested the
possibility of fraudulent manipulations in the elections.

In this country there have never been governments and "it is like a peace
of Swiss cheese, full of holes," Fidel Castro added, "even fear has been
used. The citizens having been threatened with the mobilization of
Brazilian troops on the border."

The first statements of the Cuban leader concerning the Uruguayan elections
were made to a group of more than 120 Chilean priests of the Christians for
Socialism Movement, which is lead by priest Gonzalo Arroyo, a foreigner. It
is like the ONIS [as received] Movement in Peru and the Third World Group
in Argentina.

The priests met with the Cuban Prime Minister in the gardens of the Cuban
ambassador's residence and for more than an hour discussed the relationship
between Christianity and socialism, the role of Christians on the Latin
American continent and the identification between social justice and true

Also present at the meeting were: Chilean Ambassador to Cuba Juan Enrique
Vega and Under Secretary of Justice Jose Antonio Viera Gallo, both
militants of the Unitary Popular Action Movement (MAPU) which is a part of
the Popular Unity government and has strong contacts with the Christian

The Cuban prime Minister said in the informal session that: "The Christians
have passed the persecution and inquisition phase" and have "now entered a
new progressive period."

He also said: "If the Christianity of 2,000 years ago was a utopian
doctrine, today it can be a reality," and that its basic propositions are
similar and agree with the needs of social justice.

The Cuban leader referred to the need for a revolutionary justice as a
means for a process of radical structural changes and said that if, in this
case, one turns his face "to offer the other cheek," the reactionaries kill
him without mercy and require payment in human lives for the right to carry
out their own changes.

In this regard he added that the origin of war can be found as a product of
egoism and pointed out that there are Catholics chaplains who have helped
the wounded in these wars or have blessed imperialist invasions such as the
one at Playa Giron. Maj Fidel Castro said: "The chaplain will disappear as
war disappears."

A priest asked him what he saw as the solution to the problem of freeing
Christian values from the improper use made of them by the bourgeoisie, the
Cuban Prime Minister said; "I believe that the answer is in exactly what
you are doing," that is clarifying the identification between values and
the struggles for social justice.

Fidel Castro explained that a rich capitalist could never be a good
Christian and he presented an example from ancient Rome: "In the circus the
Christian and the Lion cannot both win."

The Cuban Prime Minister also spoke of literature and the means of
communication which, in a distorted form, are used by a commercial party
that deforms and corrupts man with pornography and the praise of sex and
vice. He said over the laughter of the priests: "If one is not careful,
they will even sell your soul."

In response to a question, Fidel Castro referred to the situation of
Catholicism in Cuba before the revolution, specifying that there had been
Christian participation in the final part of the revolution.

He said that Catholicism in Cuba had been basically a religion of the upper
levels of society and that it was used to slow the revolution down, "but as
a class problem which in reality had nothing to do with religion."

Maj Fidel Castro said: "The Movement of the Christian Left in Latin America
has helped the Cuban religious communities find themselves," and he
mentioned a recent conversation he had had on this subject with Nicaraguan
poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal.

In conclusion he said: "We must take the initiative to vitalize the
progressivist tendencies of the Christian in Latin America."

The Chilean priest Gonzalo Arroyo, director of the Christians for Socialism
Movement which includes nearly 200 Catholic priests, told PRENSA LATINA
soon after the meeting that "meetings like this and the opinions of Fidel
Castro help our work a great deal."

Gonzalo Arroyo felt that the most important point developed by the Cuban
Prime Minister in his talks with Catholics or in his opinions regarding
Christianity during his stay in Chile--such as those made today at the
State Technical University--is that which "clarifies that Christians are
not merely tactical allies but strategic allies" in a revolutionary