Published: Sep 05, 2011 6:03 PM EDT

HAVANA (AP) - The Roman Catholic Church is denouncing acts of violence and abuse by pro-government crowds against a Cuban opposition group.
    
A spokesman adds that the church has received assurances from the government that no "national decision center" was behind "orders to assault these people."
    
The comments follow complaints that members of the Ladies in White opposition group have been harassed or treated roughly in recent weeks.
    
Cuban officials insist that the counter-protests are spontaneous, though state security officials often interact with the crowds. The Ladies in White are made up of the wives and mothers of former political prisoners. The church statement by spokesman Orlando Marquez was sent Monday to foreign journalists.

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