Since John Paul II's turn as Pope, Catholics have had a deeply antagonistic relationship with communist regimes. However, given the aftermath of a recent trip by Catholic bishops to Cuba, that hostility may be lifting. That, or the Catholic bishops have spontaneously accepted the libertarian argument that free trade can end authoritarian governments. Either way, this report from Religious News Service may surprise some people:
Following Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to Cuba, U.S. Catholic bishops are pushing the State Department to lift the 50-year Cuban embargo in order to improve religious liberty and human rights for the Cuban people.
In a Tuesday (April 17) letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, the chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, pressed the Obama administration to pursue “purposeful engagement rather than ineffective isolation” with Havana.[...]
The embargo should be lifted, Pates wrote, so that “greater support and assistance may be provided to the ordinary citizens” of the country.
Pates' approach may strike some observers as naive - after all, the Cuban government could easily be using its own people as economic human shields. However, this would be in keeping with the Catholic Bishops' generally liberal turn in recent years.