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Fidel Castro, whose death was announced on Nov. 25, defied the Catholic Church even in his last moments by asking to be cremated despite the Vatican’s admonitions against the practice. Even if the Church’s relationship with Fidel had been shaky, Pumar said his death could encourage the Church to strengthen its ties with his brother, President Raul Castro, USA Today relays.

During Fidel’s dictatorship, church activity was stopped and churches were closed. Many priests were forced to go underground. It was only in the 1970s that the Cuban government started to ease up on its hold over churches, and the tension subsided some more after papal visits in 1998, 2012 and last year.

“This is definitely an opportunity. Raúl is going to be more open to the church. But this is going to happen gradually,” said Pumar, according to USA Today. “That’s the way change takes place in Cuba.”

Despite the hope for the blossoming of freedom and democracy in Cuba in the wake of Fidel’s death, some U.S.-based Christian leaders think that the dictator’s “repressive regime” continues to live on. Becket Fund for Religious Liberty executive director Kristina Arriaga highlighted the continuous detention and arrest of thousands of activists and people of faith by the Cuban secret police,The Christian Post reports.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, on the other hand, asked Christians to pray and to support liberty for all Cubans. Echoing Pumar’s words, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference added that…[READ ENTIRE ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE: ]

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