At the request of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Cuban police late Thursday evicted 13 dissidents who had occupied a Havana church demanding Pope Benedict XVI hear their grievances during his visit to the island last week.
That's right -- instead of meeting with them and providing them with his stature and his voice, Cardinal Ortega dropped a dime and had the police remove the protesters.
Cuban police evicted 13 dissidents from a church they had been occupying for two days demanding that Pope Benedict XVI air a list of grievances during his upcoming trip to the island, a Roman Catholic Church spokesman said.
The protesters were removed from the Church of Charity in densely packed Central Havana late Thursday at the request of the city's cardinal, church spokesman Orlando Marquez said in a statement.
"Cardinal Jaime Ortega addressed the competent authorities to invite the occupiers to abandon the sanctuary," the statement said.
The dissidents were removed without resistance, it added.
"The agents who carried out the operation had assured the Church they would be unarmed, that they would initially take the 13 persons to a police station and then to their homes. It also said they would be processed," Marquez said.
The dissidents initially occupied the church on Tuesday to demand an audience with Benedict when he visits Cuba this month. They later changed their demand and said they wanted the pontiff to mediate a list of their grievances with the Cuban government.
The occupation clearly angered Catholic officials, who have been friendly to and mediated for other dissidents in the past.