December 4, 1998
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican expressed satisfaction Wednesday that Cuba has decided to make Christmas a permanent holiday, saying the international community will surely welcome the move.
Fidel Castro's government granted a Christmas holiday last year as a one-time favor to Pope John Paul II, who visited in January.
John Paul asked that Christmas be made a regular holiday on the Cuban calendar, but until now the government had resisted making the measure permanent.
The Communist Party recommended Tuesday that ``from this year on'' Dec. 25 should be a holiday in Cuba, formally reestablishing a custom abolished in 1969. The proposal is sure to be adopted by the Communist government.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the announcement was received ``with satisfaction,'' saying it ``responds to a precise desire of the pope and the Cuban church, and I believe will not go unobserved by the international community.''