Has Cuba Heeded John Paul II´s Proposals?

No, Says Catholic Magazine in Havana

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HAVANA, FEB. 2, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Three years after John Paul II´s historic visit to Cuba, the Church here says the island´s government has not heeded the Pope´s requests.

Orlando Marquez, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Havana and director of Palabra Nueva magazine, wrote in an editorial in the January issue of the publication: «During his visit to Cuba, three years ago now, Pope John Paul II told us that we Cubans are, and must be, the protagonists of our own personal and social history.»

«It is difficult,» he continued, «for us to be protagonists of our personal and social history if we do not take up the place that corresponds to us, which is different from the place they might wish to give us. Neither can we be [protagonists] if we are impeded, or if conditions are not created to allow it.»

«This is what happens with Catholic Christians,» the article stated. It recalled the plea made in December by Havana´s archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, when closing the Eucharistic Congress.

Addressing Cuban authorities, the cardinal said: «Do not be afraid, open the possibility to the Church in Cuba to fulfill in this new millennium, without fetters or difficulties, the perennial program that the Lord Jesus has entrusted to us: to love and serve our people and so proclaim Jesus Christ to them.»

«Three years after the Pope´s visit these words should be unnecessary, but we still hope for a fruitful dialogue,» wrote Marquez. «The public processions and Christmas holidays in no way reflect the reality. There are fetters and difficulties in the spirit, which conditions the acts.»

«Where does the problem lie?» Marquez asked. According to him, the cause of the present marginalization of the Church is rooted in the program of the 1959 Castro revolution, based on the Soviet model. This model was «erroneously copied» in Cuba, Marquez wrote, «because it is neither realistic nor consistent, it doesn´t even correspond with today´s Cuban ´proletariat,´ nor with what was said earlier, during and in the days immediately [preceding] the Pope´s visit to Cuba.»

«It is necessary to dispose wills, abandon mistrust, leave fear behind,» the Palabra Nueva editorial concluded. «The state´s responsibilities must not be assumed by the Church, or vice versa. In keeping with the etymological meaning of the word, for the Church and those who are part of her, to be a protagonist means to accept being ´first in agony´: to act to overcome difficulties: to love and serve, gather, attract, protect and reconcile.»

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