[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: The Catholic Church and Cuba

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Catholic Church and Cuba

As a practicing Catholic, I can say with total honesty that I've often been disappointed by the U.S and Cuban Catholic Church's lack of strong denunciation of human rights violations in Cuba. I don't agree with their stance on the embargo, but it would be much more palatable for me if they were even stronger in their criticism of the utter lack of human rights in Cuba, not to mention open and frequent acknowledgment of the imprisoned dissidents on the island.

Nevertheless, I can't deny the good the Catholic Church has done for Cuba. This letter by Rev. Thomas Wenski, Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando, highlights some of their accomplishments in bringing direct aid to Cuba.
Did the help sent through the church after last year's hurricanes reach its intended destination? The answer to that question was Yes -- and part of our visit was actually to see where and how the help sent from the United States made a difference last year. Caritas Cuba (the Cuban equivalent of Catholic Charities) coordinated and supervised the distribution of tons of relief supplies sent from Miami in an effort mounted on this side by Catholic Relief Services and the Archdiocese of Miami's Catholic Charities.
There's one other very important thing I'd like to point out from Rev. Wenski's letter. People frequently wonder why we don't see big changes in Cuba. Most Cubans are undoubtedly fed up with the situation in Cuba, so what's going on? There are many plausible reasons and it's not something that can be answered in a quick sound byte. One reason is the stripping of faith and religion from the Cuban society over the past several decades, courtesy of castro, Inc. There's a direct correlation between faith, hope and seeking change, IMO. This fact isn't lost on Rev. Wenski:
In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict wrote: ``A world without God is a world without hope.'' When a society closes the door to the Infinite, to transcendence -- whether by adherence to ideological materialism (as in the case of Marxist-Leninism) or by adherence to practical materialism (as is increasingly the case in our Western democracies) hope is exiled. While Cuba is no longer an officially ``atheistic'' state, 50 years of communism during which religious practice was actively discouraged has had its effect on Cuban society.


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