Cuba rules out political change after papal appeal - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Cuba rules out political change after papal appeal

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HAVANA (AP) -- Pope Benedict is stressing themes of freedom and change on the second day of his visit to Cuba.

This morning, he visited the shrine of the nation's patron saint, and spent moments in prayer before the small wooden statue.

He said afterward that he had prayed for "those who suffer" and "those who are deprived of freedom."

But a Cuban official soon made it clear that the government wouldn't be responding to the pope's visit with any political changes. He said the country is shaking up its economy, but that "there will not be political reform."

Later today, Benedict will be meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro -- and possibly with Castro's brother, Fidel.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in Havana undergoing cancer treatment -- and while he has not asked for an audience, a Vatican spokesman says Chavez would be welcome to attend Mass tomorrow in Havana's Revolution Square.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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