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New Jerseyans React To Pope’s Visit To Cuba

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Pope Benedict XVI meets with Cuban President Raul Castro - Havana, Cuba - Mar 28, 2012 (credit: JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI meets with Cuban President Raul Castro – Havana, Cuba – Mar 28, 2012 (credit: JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

UNION CITY, NJ (CBSNewYork / AP) - Pope Benedict XVI is visiting the island nation of Cuba today and those of Cuban descent living in Hudson County have something to say about it.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney On The Story

“They should have a little bit more freedom,” said Mike Gonzalez of West New York as he left the sanctuary of St. Augustine Catholic Church in Union City.

He stopped to talk about the Pope’s meeting with Fidel Castro, and how people are treated on the island.

“They should have the right to go to Church every sunday, and you know, to pray to their saints whenever they want at their homes,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney.

This area of Hudson County is heavily populated with Cuban-Americans, who are not all on the same page about things in Cuba.

“Since the visit of Pope John Paul II, there has been more freedom, more openness, and greater participation of the Catholic church,” said church volunteer Damien Dearmas, who was more optimistic and hopeful that Pope Benedict’s visit will lead to talks of more freedom and unity.

Pope Benedict XVI is demanding greater freedom for the Catholic Church in Cuba during a Mass in the shrine of the island’s communist revolution. He also denounces fanaticism that tries to impose its truth on others.

Benedict’s homily was an unusually politicized papal message during Mass.

Benedict said people find freedom when they seek the truth that Christianity offers. He added, “On the other hand there are those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in `their truth’ and try to impose it on others.”

He didn’t cite the government by name in Wednesday’s message, but later urged Cuba to let the church more freely preach its message.

What do you have to say about the Pope’s visit? Sound off in the comments section below!

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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