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Dissidents occupy church, seek papal audience

HAVANA — Thirteen Cuban dissidents have holed up in a Roman Catholic church in Havana to press for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI when he visits in two weeks, saying they want to air their grievances about human rights on the communist-ruled island.

The Church of Charity in teeming Central Havana was partially shuttered Wednesday, and only pilgrims visiting an image of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, Cuba’s patron, were permitted inside.

There was no sign of any police presence, and activity appeared normal on the street outside.

From wire dispatches and staff reports