Good Friday becomes official holiday 

HAVANA — Good Friday was an official holiday here for the first time in a half century but few Catholics on the island seemed to use the day off to attend Mass.

Cuba’s Communist government declared the holiday to honor a request that Pope Benedict XVI made during his visit the previous week. But journalists saw only a few more worshipers than usual inside Havana’s Catholic churches on Friday.

Authorities were also allowing Cardinal Jaime Ortega’s to transmit a Good Friday message on state television.

Good Friday is the day Catholics commemorate the death of Christ but it is not an official holiday in the United States, most of Europe or even Mexico, the most Catholic of the world’s Spanish-speaking countries.

Cuba removed references to atheism from its constitution in the 1990s and relations have since warmed with the church. Still, less than 10 percent of islanders are practicing Catholics. The country has large numbers of adherents to Santeria and evangelical Christianity.


Mother drove with baby in purse

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Police said a woman drove with her newborn baby zipped up in her purse.

A police statement said an officer pulled over a woman driving a pickup during a routine traffic stop. While asking for the St. Croix woman’s license, the officer reported hearing a baby crying but did not see a baby seat in the vehicle.

The motorist then allegedly unzipped a purse sitting on the seat next to her and revealed a tiny newborn.

Police said the woman told them that the baby girl was born at home a week earlier and had no prenatal care. She was apparently driving the infant to a doctor.

Authorities rushed the newborn to a hospital. The mother could face criminal charges. Her name and age were not disclosed.

The following news briefs were compiled from reports by The Associated Press