Cuban political prisoners and their families will have to look beyond Rome for high-power support for their cause, if Vatican Secretary of State's tepid expression of semi-solidarity with them is any indicator.
The Vatican's No. 2 official expressed the Roman Catholic Church's concern about prisoners in Cuba during a meeting with President Raul Castro, but stopped short of asking the communist government to free inmates.
Raul Castro's meeting Tuesday with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was the new Cuban president's first with a visiting dignitary since taking over from his 81-year-old brother Fidel two days ago. Bertone is Pope Benedict XVI's secretary of state.
Wrapping up a six-day visit to the communist-run island, the cardinal said the relationship between the Church and Cuba's government "will always be challenging, but also full of opportunities to promote the well-being of Cubans."
He said that during the closed-door meeting, with the "utmost respect for the sovereignty of the country and its citizens, I expressed to President Raul Castro the Church's worries for prisoners and their families."
Diplomatic protocols sometimes require such non-speak. But I've also thought that the church — which is my church — was better than that, willing at any point to use the moral authority it is suppose to represent to speak on behalf of those who cannot be heard, to speak truth to power.
Once again in Cuba, the church has fallen way short of this ideal.