July 14, 2000

Was Christ a 'communist'? Castro thinks so

                  HAVANA (Reuters) -- Cuba's Catholic-educated President Fidel Castro, one of
                  history's most famous communists, believes Jesus Christ shared his political

                  "Christ chose the fishermen, because he was a communist," Castro said in
                  comments carried by state media Friday, referring to Christ's choice of humble
                  fishermen from the Sea of Galilee to be his first disciples.

                  Castro, whose once-stated atheism is believed to have possibly mellowed in
                  recent years, made the comment during a National Assembly debate on the local
                  fishing industry.

                  His brother Raul Castro -- second-in-command in the ruling Communist Party
                  headed by Fidel Castro -- concurred entirely. "I think that's why they killed
                  Jesus, for being a communist, for doing what Fidel defined as Revolution ... that
                  is to say, changing the situation," he said.

                  Fidel Castro, 73, was educated at a Jesuit-run High School in Havana. But after
                  his 1959 Cuban Revolution, he established a socialist and officially atheist state,
                  and declared himself a non-believer. Church-state ties were tense.

                  But in recent years, most notably during Pope John Paul II's historic visit to
                  Cuba in 1998, Castro has avoided defining his personal view on Christianity and
                  preferred to insist that he respects all religions.

                  He has said that legendary leftist guerrilla Ernesto "Che" Guevara probably would
                  have been "made a saint" if he had been a Catholic because he had "all the