Cuba Allows Religious Services in Prisons

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The communist government of Cuba is allowing inmates to attend Roman Catholic Mass and Protestant services inside prisons.
    
A spokesman for the Protestant Cuban Church Council, Jose Aurelio Paz, says the Cuban Communist Party agreed last week to allow organized worship behind bars.

"Now they are going to not only be able to meet, but also use hymn books, Bibles and crosses as part of ceremonies," Paz said by telephone.
    
The change follows a request in 2007 by representatives from the Latin America council of Catholic bishops for the right to celebrate Mass in Cuba's prisons.

In the past, Cuban prisoners were allowed to meet with clergy only on an individual basis.
 
The new provision applies only to Catholic or Protestant prisoners.  But communist officials are considering allowing the rule to apply to inmates of other faiths.

About 600,000 Cubans are believed to attend Protestant churches and the council has 47 official churches and other places of worship listed in the country. Cuba does not give figures on the number or prisoners in Cuba.

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