Marco Rubio loosed some hardcore bile against the Catholic Church, accusing the Church of cozying up to the Castro regime.

The Daily Caller reports:

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that he is “deeply concerned” that the leadership of the Catholic Church has “negotiated themselves a space of operation” in Cuba “in exchange for looking the other way,” and expressed concern that Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming trip to the island may “reinforce that arrangement.”

Rubio, a Catholic, said during a discussion at The Heritage Foundation that the Catholic Church has “negotiated a political space for themselves in exchange for their moral imperative.”

Volunteering an example, Rubio said, “last week… the church invited — the cardinal invited — Castro thugs to come into the church and remove people.”

Rubio also denounced the church for “actively participating in exiling dissidents,” sarcastically adding, “somehow exiling someone to Spain is a humanitarian measure.”

I don’t know for sure specifically what he’s referring to but it might just be the story that came out that within the last week that protesters had occupied Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Charity in Havana and the Cathedral of Pinar del Rio in an apparent effort to demand an audience with Pope Benedict during his March 25-29 visit to the country.

They wouldn’t leave the church until the Pope came to see them, according to CNA. So the pastor called the police and had them removed. That’s hardly rising to the level of cozying up to dictators.

Spokesman for the Archdiocese of Havana, Orlando Marquez, called the incidents an “organized strategy by various groups in different regions of the country” aimed at “creating difficult situations” as the Pope’s visit approaches.

Marquez called the recent protests “illegitimate” and “irresponsible.”

This seems like a pretty wild and outrageous accusation from a Senator of the United States if that’s what he’s basing it on. I know a lot of folks had been considering Rubio as a strong possibility for a veep slot but these kinds of comments seem so out of bounds to me that I hope everyone would reconsider. He needs to be pressed on this issue. If he’s got evidence to back up what he’s saying, then let’s hear it.