SAN LORENZO DE EL ESCORIAL, Spain, SEPT. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church in Cuba shifted from being an institution “on the defensive” to one in “a state of mission and growth” after the Pope’s 1998 visit, says an ecclesial leader.
Monsignor Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Havana, made his observation Tuesday during a conference on Church relations with Cuban society. The conference was part of a summer program of the Complutense University.
The speaker asked how it was possible for Cuban society to change from “militant atheism” during the first years of Fidel Castro’s regime, to a nation where 86% of the people are believers, as researchers found in 1994 and 1996.
The answer, he said, was the “lack of responsibility” shown by key sectors of Cuban society which led to “inconsistency in religious, cultural and political matters.”
According to the monsignor, the Cubans were neither as religious as it was thought prior to Castro’s rise to power, nor have they been as atheist after.
That’s why the Cubans who proclaimed their Catholic faith in the 1950s, almost immediately afterward “had no scruples in signing a statement of the Communist Party affirming that they were atheists,” he said.
The monsignor cautioned, however, that the Church’s revival comes at a time when fundamentalist Pentecostal and syncretist sects are also growing. Both currents, he said, are “a reality that is far from being a religion in the genuine sense of the term.”
“Both attitudes entail cultural ruptures with deteriorating consequences for the culture and nationality,” he added.