Of 200 people who traveled to Canada with the Cuban church delegation, 23 stayed behind, the bishop said. Baladron, bishop from Cuba's eastern province of Guantanamo, headed the delegation. The prelate said several dozen young people from other countries also stayed behind in Canada during the World Youth Day encounter with the pontiff in Toronto.
Baladron said news coverage of the Cubans' defection "indicates that a religious event such as this ... can be taken advantage of by those with determined politic interests."
The Cuban delegation left for Canada on July 18 and returned Aug. 2. It was the first time that the communist government had authorized such a large group to travel abroad for a Roman Catholic gathering.