Tag Archives: Cuba Catholic Church

Cuba’s new Archbishop: “All I want to do is improve socialism”


Fox News Latino

Cuba’s new Archbishop says that all he wants is to “improve socialism” and will continue the work of former Bishop Jaime Ortega, a well known puppet of the Cuban regime:

In the mid-1970s, a recently ordained priest trekked the Cuban countryside, defying the communist government by distributing hand-printed religious pamphlets to townspeople bold enough to open their doors.

At the height of Cuba’s anti-religious sentiment, the man known as Father Juanito was tolerated thanks to his soft-spoken manner and unbending will, say those who followed his rise. His admirers say that personality served him well when he became bishop of the eastern city of Camaguey and launched an intensive outreach to the poor, arranging aid for needy pregnant women and diverting religious processions off main streets into the humblest neighborhoods.

“He’s an inexhaustible worker, and not in comfortable locations, but in difficult and tricky ones,” said Maribel Moreno, secretary and archivist for Camaguey’s archdiocese for two decades.

In more than a dozen interviews, those who know Juan de la Caridad García said they expect him to transform the Cuban Catholic Church in his new post as archbishop of Havana, which he assumed late last month. After three decades under Cardinal Jaime Ortega, a skilled diplomat comfortable in the halls of power, Cuba’s most important non-governmental institution is being led by a man focused on rebuilding the church’s relationship with ordinary Cubans.

Ortega built warmer church relations with the Cuban government, winning important freedoms for the church. He even helped negotiate U.S.-Cuban detente, carrying a secret papal message from Havana to Washington. The cardinal attended diplomatic receptions in Havana and cultural galas with high-ranking government officials. He gave television interviews to Cuban and international stations and spoke at major universities overseas.

When Pope Francis appointed García to head the Archdiocese of Havana in April, the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops highlighted García’s “simplicity of life, apostolic dedication, prayer and a life of virtue.”

“The overwhelming effort and the mood will be eminently pastoral, even though diplomatic and political matters must be tended to,” said the Rev. Ignacio Zaldumbide, a friend since they were university and seminary students.

García’s pastoral focus was on display one recent Sunday when he left Havana’s grand cathedral to celebrate Mass at the St. John the Baptist church in the small town of Jaruco, in central Mayabeque province. He handed out sweets to children and joked with congregants about how some town residents focused more on drinking than religion and attended church once every 40 years.

“Obviously there are many things to work on, many places to spread the word, but I’m not going to start from zero. The previous bishops and Cardinal Jaime Ortega have done a lot,” García told The Associated Press after Mass. “The church lives the Gospel, announces the Gospel and denounces what’s wrong in order for progress to be made.”

His predecessor has been criticized by dissidents and anti-Castro Cuban-Americans for praising achievements of the Cuban revolution and maintaining a non-confrontational relationship with the government, even as he helped negotiate the release of prisoners including those held on political charges. In retirement, Ortega will live in a former seminary in Old Havana, where some church observers believe he will serve for some time as the church’s main emissary to the Cuban government as García tends to his flock.

However the responsibilities are divided, García said he doesn’t intend to change the church’s approach to the government.

“I think the cardinal did a lot of good,” García said. “There’s a slightly negative image of him in some places and that’s false. I am going to continue what he did.”

García said he shares the government’s stated vision of gradual reform in Cuba, which is slowly opening its economy to private enterprise and granting Cubans a limited number of new personal freedoms within a single-party system criticized as the last undemocratic government in Latin America.

The church doesn’t want “capitalism or anything of the sort, rather that socialism progresses in a just, equal and brotherly society,” the new archbishop said.

Continue reading Cuba’s new Archbishop: “All I want to do is improve socialism”

The leadership of Cuba’s Catholic Church is in bed with the Devil

Via Capitol Hill Cubans


Church Denies Refuge to Cuban Dissidents, Allows Security Forces to Arrest Them

Five Cuban democracy activists took refuge in the Cathedral of San Rosendo, a Catholic entity in the eastern province of Pinar del Rio.
They issued a video message calling for the respect of human rights and freedom for the Cuban people.
The activists warn the international community, including the Obama Administration, that there has been no real change in Cuba.
Finally, they ask for the support of Pope Francis, prior to his upcoming visit to Cuba.
The activists are Caridad León Valladares, Leodán Suárez Quiñones, Carlos Alberto Rodríguez Seruto, Michael Valladares Cala and Daudi Ermelo Lago.
In a shameful display, Catholic officials allowed Castro’s secret police to enter — and forcibly remove the activists — from the Cathedral.
The Bishop, Jorge Enrique Cerpa, even called them “counter-revolutionaries.”
Their whereabouts remain unknown.

Watch the video:


While Cuba’s Catholic Church Bans Relatives of Political Prisoners from Mass: The repression against Christians increases

Reuters Numerous churches in Cuba have reported threats of confiscation or destruction of property, CSW says
Numerous churches in Cuba have reported threats of confiscation or destruction of property, CSW says

Churches in Cuba are increasingly being targeted by the government and forced to pay huge sums of money, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has warned.
An annual report into religious freedom in Cuba released last month branded a rise in violations of religious liberty in the country “troubling”. Every Sunday scores of men and women are violently arrested and temporarily imprisoned to stop them attending Mass, and foreign students involved in religious activities have been expelled and had their visas taken away. Additionally, CSW has accused the Cuban government of targeting church properties “to tighten its control over the activities and membership of religious groups and thus eliminate the potential for any social unrest.”
Legislation that came into force in January of this year has been used by the government to seize properties belonging to religious organisations and force them into paying vast sums of money, CSW says.
A national leader of the Apostolic Movement in Cuba, Rev Yiorvis Bravo, had his church confiscated in 2013. Housing Ministry Officials decreed that he could only continue to use the building if he paid a fee of US $300 a month – 15 times the average annual salary in Cuba. Bravo, who maintains he is the legal owner of the property, has thus far refused to pay the sum, and has now been banned from travelling outside of the country.
He was due to visit Peru for a Leadership course on June 29, but received a letter the day beforehand stating that he now not allowed to leave Cuba because of his ‘debts’.
Chief executive of CSW Mervyn Thomas said Bravo’s situation is a “clear demonstration that the strategy behind these expropriations is to exert more control over religious leaders and bodies of faith.”
“We have repeatedly raised concerns about the growing number of churches, registered and unregistered, which have been informed of the arbitrary expropriations of their properties by the government in recent months,” Thomas said.
“We continue to condemn the illegal expropriations of church properties and call on the Cuban government to rescind these orders of confiscation immediately. Furthermore, we call on the Cuban authorities to lift any restrictions on travel for Reverend Bravo without delay.”    Christian Today

Cuba: Catholic Church Bans Relatives of Political Prisoners from Mass


A Catholic church in the central Cuban city of Cienfuegos has banned female relatives of political prisoners from attending mass unless they no longer wear white, a color associated with political imprisonment in the nation. The slight to families of the abused follows the bewildering remark from Archbishop of Havana Jaime Ortega that Cuba no longer has prisoners of conscience.
Eight members of the Ladies in White activist group have attended Sunday Catholic Mass wearing white for years, sitting in the pews in silence unless participating in the Mass. No reports have surfaced of the women themselves–mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters of prisoners of conscience–disturbing the Mass. Nonetheless, a priest in Cienfuegos expelled them from his service, ordering them never to wear white again in his church if they wish to attend services.
The priest, identified as “Father Tarciso,” told Diario de Cuba that the women were “disrespectful,” stating, “I had told them that the way things are could not continue to be. … I cannot allow our community to be further fractured,” he argued. He accused them of taking photographs inside the church, which the ladies deny. Miladis Espino Díaz, a representative of the Ladies in White, noted that they were expelled from the church and, upon walking out, could hear the priest apologize to those in attendance for not having done it sooner.
“We do not only go to church because we are Ladies in White,” Espino Díaz told the newspaper, “but because we believe in God. We sing, we pray, we participate, we do nothing wrong.”
Following their removal from the church, the women testified to being the victim of a number of offensive acts, including a man “exposing himself and urinating in front of them,” “obscene gestures using fingers,” and “being called prostitutes.”
Offenses to the Ladies in White are common as they attempt to attend Mass; in a particularly gruesome instance last year, one woman was tarred for wearing white to the service.
Two male supporters of the group, Emilio García Moreira and Alexander Veliz García, began a hunger strike Thursday to support the return of the women to Mass.
Catholic religion is heavily regulated in communist Cuba, where it is technically a counterrevolutionary activity but has managed to persist, particularly given overtures by Pope Francis towards the Castro dictatorship. “If he keeps talking like this, I’ll return to the Church,” Raúl Castro said of the Pope this year following his support of major U.S. concessions to the Castro regime. Pope Francis was a direct mediator between President Obama and Raúl Castro before the American head of state chose to strip Cuba of its State Sponsor of Terrorism status–despite no evidence in a change of support to either the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or Hezbollah–in exchange for nothing from Cuba.
Meanwhile, Catholic Mass remains among the most popular locations for mass political arrests. According to the watchdog Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which keeps a monthly tally of politically motivated arrests in Cuba, authorities made 641 political arrests in May, the latest month for which statistics are available. Out of the 641 arrests, 219 occurred either at a Mass or outside a church, where Ladies in White were arrested before they could attend services. Thirty instances of Mass-related arrests took place in May.
Despite overt targeting on the part of Cuban authorities, Catholic officials have insisted on defending the Cuban government against their congregants. In an interview on Spanish radio this month, Archbishop of Havana Jaime Ortega made the perplexing claim that Cuba no longer houses political prisoners. “When Pope Benedict came [to Cuba], there was a pardon of the common prisoners, because there are no political prisoners left in Cuba anymore,” he alleged.
Multiple human rights groups have confirmed that there are at least 71 political prisoners in Cuba, with others arrested on vague charges of disturbing public order and “counterrevolutionary activities” that may also be politically motivated. Cuban activists have reacted with horror to Ortega’s remarks, particularly in light of a scheduled visit to the island by Pope Francis himself in September. The visit, said 17-year political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, will be “a very dangerous visit, because it will serve to legitimize the regime like never before.” Berta Soler, head of the Ladies in White group, responded with similar outrage, given that Ortega’s remarks render the families of the women in her group nonexistent. “We find it deplorable that Cardinal [Ortega] uses the same rhetoric as the Cuban government. The Catholic Church should not be biased; it should protect and shelter every suffering, defenseless person,” she said in a statement.

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