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Pope in Cuba: Trip shows how church playing balancing act (+video)

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That is the road the church has chosen for itself in modern-day Cuba.  Rather than serve as a force for opposition, it looks for opportunities for constructive engagement with the government in ways that it feels can benefit the Cuban people. 

Many observers were aghast when, just before the pope’s visit, Cuban Catholic Church leaders requested that government authorities remove 13 dissidents who had been “occupying” a Havana church for several days. (Accounts differ about how peaceably they were evicted from the church.)  I’m certainly no expert in religious affairs, but many saw this action as the church siding with the oppressor and refusing sanctuary to these dissidents (as houses of worship often do, though usually in situations when someone is fleeing armed conflict). Considering the positive role Cuba’s Catholic Church has played specifically on human rights in Cuba in the past several years, I thought there might be more nuanced views of the cardinal’s decision than I’ve read so far. 

Whatever the Cuban Catholic Church’s failings, let’s remember that it was one of Cardinal Jaime Ortega’s letters to Raul Castro seeking an end to harassment of a peaceful protest group, the Ladies in White, that helped reinstate the group's weekly marches, which had been suspended by the government, and led to a face to face ongoing dialogue with Raul Castro, and the release of all of Cuba’s political prisoners in the following months.

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