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Has Former Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro 'Rediscovered Jesus?
In this photo released by the state media Cubadebate web site, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro delivers a speech to members of a Cuban medical brigade who arrived recently from Bolivia, in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Cubadebate, Roberto Chile)

Has Former Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro 'Rediscovered Jesus?

"We know that in this last period he has come closer to religion and God."

Cuba's ailing former leader Fidel Castro, 85, is certainly no friend of the United States. But new reports have some wondering if the former president is now looking to become a comrade of...Jesus Christ. According to media reports, Castro's daughter, Alina Fernandez, is claiming that her father has become more friendly to religion as his life is nearing a close.

Now, it is important to note that Fernandez is estranged from her father, so it's unclear just how much inside information she has regarding his faith views. See, Fernandez was born to one of Castro's mistresses who fled to Spain with her daughter back in 1993 (Fernandez is now based in Miami). That being said, her words are still worth noting, especially considering news that has purportedly leaked from a Vatican source.

"He has rediscovered Jesus at the end of his life," Fernandez was quoted as saying in La Repubblica, a popular Italian newspaper. The complete translation of her comments, as reported by ABC News, is as follows:

“During this last period, Fidel has come closer to religion: he has rediscovered Jesus at the end of his life. It doesn’t surprise me because dad was raised by Jesuits.”

This same article goes on the quote an unnamed, high-ranking Vatican official as well -- an individual who is helping organize Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to Cuba.

"Fidel is at the end of his strength. Nearly at the end of his life. His exhortations in the party paper Granma, are increasingly less frequent," the unnamed source said. "We know that in this last period he has come closer to religion and God."

This is causing some to wonder if the former leader will be seeking out forgiveness and a clean slate with the Pople next month. The Associated Press has more regarding Pope Benedict's impending trip to Cuba:

The Roman Catholic Church in Cuba has announced the dates and a partial itinerary for Pope Benedict XVI's much-anticipated visit to the island, the first by a pontiff since John Paul II's groundbreaking 1998 tour.

The church said in a statement Sunday that the pontiff will be in Cuba from March 26 to 28, following a visit to Mexico.

This trip is noteworthy for a number of reasons. To begin, Castro has a complicated history with the Catholic Church. He was excommunicated in 1962 and, considering his treatment of citizens and his nation's isolation, he hasn't always had the most favorable interactions with Christian leadership. However, since his brother, Raul, has taken over, conditions seem to be improving. NPR reports:

The origins of Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to Cuba can partly be traced back to events at the church in the spring of 2010. At that time, government-organized mobs attacked the women outside the church as foreign television cameras rolled.

Cuba's church leaders intervened, and in the dialogue with Raul Castro that followed, more than 100 jailed dissidents were freed. [...]

Under Raul Castro, Cuba's Catholic Church has recovered a degree of prominence it hasn't had in 50 years. Castro said the island will welcome the pope with affection and respect, announcing he would pardon nearly 3,000 more prisoners in advance of the papal visit.

"This is a demonstration of the strength and generosity of the Cuban Revolution," Castro said in a Dec. 23 speech to Cuba's parliament.

All things considered, it is quite possible that the former dictator (Fidel) has renounced his past behaviors and is prepared to ask the Pope for forgiveness, while seeking to re-join his long-lost faith tradition.

(H/T: Miami New Times)

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