Church in Cuba Showing "Positive Tendencies"

ROME, MAY 12, 2004 ( The Catholic Church in Cuba shows “quite positive tendencies,” though 20% of the island’s people live in extreme poverty, says one of its bishops.

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Bishop Emilio Aranguren Echeverria of Cienfuegos, secretary-general of the Cuban episcopal conference, assessed the situation of Christianity in the Caribbean island when he visited the headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need, in Germany.

“More and more children are being baptized, the sacrament of anointing of the sick is being increasingly administered and funeral Masses are celebrated more frequently,” the bishop said. “Also, there is an ever growing vocational aspiration among youths.”

“For this reason, the biggest challenge for the Church is the comprehensive formation of priests, religious and laity,” he added. Asked about general needs of the Cubans, Bishop Aranguren pointed to the “growing poverty” in the island.

According to the bishop, 10% of the Cubans are able to “make a good living,” 40% can “pull through,” while 30% are needy and the rest live in extreme poverty.

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