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Showing posts with label Catholic Church in Cuba. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic Church in Cuba. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Religious Orders Teach Entrepreneurialism in Cuba

In a Communist nation in which 80% of workers are employed by the government and private education is officially banned, the Archdiocese of Havana, the Jesuits, and the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools have partnered with a Mexican university to offer courses in entrepreneurialism, the Fides news agency reported. 

“Our course is designed to teach people how to run a business in an elementary way,” said an archdiocesan official. “Therefore it offers the basic elements necessary to adapt the project to our country.” 

Additional sources for this story Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Castro Regime Accepts Pope's Request to make Good Friday a Public Holiday

While persecution of Catholics in the United States continues under the Marxist in the White House, the persecution of Catholics under the Marxists in Havana shows signs of improvement.  The Cuban government has announced that it will grant Pope Benedict's request to make Good Friday an official holiday.  The Castro regime had previously restored Christmas as an official state holiday at the request of Pope Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

The recognition of Good Friday is not even an official holiday in most of Europe, the United States, or even Mexico, the most Catholic of Spanish-speaking countries.  The Vatican hopes that the gesture will help renew Catholic life in the hemisphere's least religious country after fifty years of repression and state atheism.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, has welcomed the news and stated: "The fact that the Cuban authorities have promptly accepted the Holy Father's request to President Raul Castro, declaring a holiday next Friday, is certainly a very positive sign.  The Holy See hopes that this will promote participation in religious celebrations and happy Easter holidays, and that even after the visit of the Holy Father continue to bear the desired fruits for the good of the Church and of all Cubans."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cuba's State-Run Television Airs Cardinal's Message in Advance of Pope's Visit

In a rare speech on state-controlled television, Cuba's Catholic cardinal said an upcoming visit by the pope would reignite the religious fervor in the island. 

Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, the Archbishop of Havana, told viewers that Pope Benedict was visiting the island to "revive a sleeping faith, a somewhat erased faith.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pope Benedict to Visit Cuba and Mexico Before Easter 2012

From Vatican Radio

In a special liturgy Monday evening in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI entrusted to Our Lady of Guadalupe the people of Latin America and reiterated the right of the unborn to live, while urging nations to effectively confront the social and public justice challenges that face them.

The Pope also announced his intention to make an apostolic journey to Cuba and Mexico ahead of Easter next year. Pope Benedict said that he desired to make the trip in order to "preach the Word of Christ" and to confirm anew that now is the time to proclaim the Gospel with true faith, living hope, and ardent charity.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pope Benedict Welcomes First Cuban Pilgrimage to the Tombs of the Apostles

An extraordinary story within the great spiritual mega-event that is World Youth Day, is the first Cuban pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles.  The Cuban youth, accompanied by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino were greeted by Pope Benedict XVI at his Sunday audience at Castel Gandolfo.  They, along with nearly two million other young pilgrims from around the world, will join the Pope later this week in Madrid.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Castro Attends Opening of First New Seminary in Cuba for 50 years

Castro attends opening of first new seminary in Cuba for 50 years

A statue of Christ seen outside Cuba's new San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary (CNS photo/Desmond Boylan, Reuters)

From the Catholic Herald (UK)

In a ceremony joined by President Raul Castro, Cuba’s Catholic bishops have inaugurated the San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary, the country’s first major church-related construction in the half century since the revolution led by Fidel Castro.

Joined by Cuba’s bishops and representatives of the Vatican and of the Catholic Church in the United States, Mexico, Italy and the Bahamas, Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino noted that the late Pope John Paul II blessed the first stone of the new seminary at a Mass during his January 1998 visit to the island.

At that point, then-President Fidel Castro pledged his support for the project, the cardinal said.

“That promise has been faithfully completed,” he said, adding his thanks to the Castros, “that this work was completed properly with the help of the state.”

Among the 300 guests attending the official opening were the apostolic nuncio to Cuba, Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Mexican Archbishop Emilio Berlie Belaunzaran of Yucatan. Cuban government representatives included the foreign minister, the minister of culture, the head of the office of religious affairs of the ruling Communist Party and the historian of Havana.

A message sent in the name of Pope Benedict XVI said he hoped the seminary’s inauguration would be “a sign and a stimulus for a renewed commitment to strive for careful human, spiritual and academic preparation” for priestly ministry.

The message, sent to Cardinal Ortega by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, invited seminarians to “increasingly identify themselves with the sentiments of Christ the Good Shepherd, through assiduous prayer, serious dedication to study, humbly listening to the divine word, dignified celebration of the sacraments and courageous witness of his love as authentic disciples and missionaries of the Gospel of salvation”.

The seminary, which can house 100 people, will open to students next year on 54 acres of former farmland southeast of Havana.

The Mexican newspaper La Jornada explained that in 1966, in the early days of the Castro regime when tensions with the Church were high, the Church was forced to turn to over to the government the previous San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary, built in 1948.

Classes were moved to a classic colonial cloister in Havana’s historic district, where they have been located ever since. That building will become a cultural centre and studio, housing a library and space for exhibitions, concerts, theatre and film screenings.

The country’s only other Catholic seminary is in Santiago de Cuba, on the southeastern coast.

Construction of the new San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary began in 2006. The stone blessed by Pope John Paul rests in a glass case at the seminary’s entrance.

The Church covered the total cost of the work with donations from individuals, communities and international Catholic institutions. Cardinal Ortega specifically thanked donors, including the bishops’ conferences of the United States, Italy and Germany, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the Knights of Columbus, and Catholics in the United States, France, Spain and several Latin American countries.

The opening of San Carlos and San Ambrosio takes place at a time of marked improvement in relations between the Catholic Church and the state, after 50 years of ups and downs.

Analysts describe the current situation as “more relaxed”, since a dialogue process that began with a meeting in May between Raul Castro, Cardinal Ortega and Santiago Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez, president of the Cuban bishops’ conference.

As a result of that dialogue, in July the Cuban government began a process of releasing political prisoners. As of October 21, 47 prisoners had been released on the condition that they voluntarily leave for Spain. Some are reportedly in the process of seeking residency in the United States, where many of the ex-prisoners have family.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


From New America Media
By Louis E.V. Nevaer

HAVANA – Catholic churches are full to capacity during mass, and the neighborhood Communist offices are empty.

One decade after Pope John Paul II traveled to Cuba – and negotiated an accommodation with Fidel Castro – the Vatican now speaks with the moral authority that few anticipated. That the Cuban people continue to move away from the Communist ideology has concerned Fidel Castro’s inner circle for more than five years, and it was instructive that Raul Castro, who has replaced his older brother Fidel as head of state, held his first meeting with a foreign dignitary with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state.

“He knows that the people have always believed in Christ, and never in Marx or Lenin or Fidel,” says a woman stepping out of the Church of the Sacred Heart along Father Felix Varela Avenue. “Raul wishes he had one one-hundredth of the authority of the pope.”

In the meeting between Raul Castro and Cardinal Bertone, it was the state that was deferential: Cuba’s state-run press, which rarely covers anything but official state institutions or Cuba’s Communist Party, printed a message from Cuba’s Catholic bishops. “In these moments our prayer is to God and the Virgin of Charity, our mother, patron of Cuba, for this newly renovated and inaugurated assembly council of state and new president to have the light from God to take decisive transcendental measures that we know should be progressive, but can begin to at once satisfy the anxieties and worries expressed by Cubans,” the bishops wrote.

The resurgence of the Catholic Church in this officially atheist state has reverberated throughout Cuba: Cubans are proud to display images of the Virgin of Charity, Santa Barbara, Saint Lazarus, and the Virgin of Guadalupe in their homes. Young men openly sport tattoos of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. Masses offered at mid-morning on weekdays are standing-room only. A young man in his early twenties simply shrugs his shoulders when asked why he is at mass, and not at work, on a Monday morning. “Everyone needs hope and inner peace; coming to church gives me that,” he says. “Going to work is an empty gesture. After 49 years of failures, is my going to work going to make Fidel’s revolution succeed? Only a s--t-eater would believe that.”

Fidel Castro never outlawed religion, but he made life impossible for those who practiced their faith: priests were expelled, religious schools were banned, believers of any faith were not permitted to join the Communist party, and Cuba’s constitution extolled the virtues of atheism. Churches were closed throughout the country; Havana’s Sephardic Jews survived by renting their synagogue as a dance hall; Muslims were forced to leave (Cuba’s sole mosque is now a museum); and practitioners of “Santeria,” an Afro-Cuban faith with roots in West Africa were driven underground.

These draconian measures only intensified criticism of Fidel Castro’s regime, but he didn’t care – that is, of course, until the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Cuba desperately needed to court the goodwill and foreign aid of the European community. As former Soviet-sponsored regimes collapsed – from Poland to Slovakia, Hungary to Lithuania – Cuba quietly removed references to atheism from its Constitution, allowed religious orders of nuns to pursue “social assistance” endeavors, and lifted the ban on believers entering the Communist party.

These changes culminated in 1998, when John Paul II visited the island, and held mass in the Plaza de la RevoluciĆ³n, which was broadcast to the entire nation. There was no turning back. More and more churches were opened, priests trickled in, and Jews were allowed to receive sufficient assistance from Mexico’s Jewish community, the largest in Latin America, to reopen their synagogue. (Of the 50 remaining Sephardic Jewish families remaining in Havana, this past Sabbath was attended by fewer than a dozen people, not one younger than 60.) Fidel Castro also delighted in the Vatican’s position that the U.S. embargo was “immoral.”

This is not to say it has been a happy meeting of minds. No practicing believer holds a high position in government; an acute shortage of priests and nuns makes it impossible for millions of Cuban Catholics to practice their faith; Communist officials have resisted opening long-closed churches; teachers ridicule their students who admit attending church.

Despite these obstacles, churches have filled up – while Communist offices have emptied out.

After the revolution, every neighborhood included a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, known as CDRs, usually comprised of “little old ladies” who snitched on the goings-on to the authorities. This month, however, one third of the CDRs in the Vedado and Habana Centro neighborhoods are empty. One woman in her 70s nonchalantly explains that at her age, “getting right with God is more important than being right with Fidel.” She explains that she simply reported that there was nothing suspicious on her block, and preferred to spend time praying at church.

In this manner, social power has drifted from the state to the church, and this has not been lost on Communist authorities. Catholic churches increasingly provide social services, from offering space for Alcoholic Anonymous meetings to conducting parenting classes for new mothers. Some are even doubling up as health centers, making sure children and the elderly get sufficient calories.

As one woman explains, “In theory healthcare is free,” but “only if you pay bribes.” The reality of medical care in Cuba is that “at the clinic, you show up and they can’t see you for months, unless you pay off the person who makes the appointments. Then the tests the doctor orders won’t be ready, unless you pay a bribe to the technician. And if x-rays are involved, that’s another bribe. Then the pharmacy won’t give you your prescription – unless another bribe is paid, so the ‘free’ medical care ends up costing two or three months’ salary paid out in bribes.”

The Catholic Church has offered frustrated and disillusioned Cubans a way out. “The Church does not impose, but proposes,” Cardinal Bertone told Italian reporters covering his recent meeting with Raul Castro. “We do hope for some openness, because nothing is impossible.”

And curiously enough, the first person Raul Castro invited for a state visit was Pope Benedict.