Cuba and the Church

The Catholic Church in Cuba has recently been marked by a fierce controversy. Although the relationship between the Church and the State is always conflicting, it is clear that more issues are likely to arise in acountry which has been cradling a communist dictatorship regime since 1959 – the year in which the leaders of the Revolution imposed atheism on the Cuban nation. Yet, the Church did not cease to exist then: despite the cruel repression, or perhaps precisely because of that as the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest, there has been adramatic flourish of Catholicism in Cuba; possibly it was ameans of spiritual escape from atoo pragmatic and earthly world, which had begun to fall apart too soon.

However, over the years, the role of the Church in Cuba has become ambiguous and many Cuban Catholics feel disappointed. As the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI received full support of the State, it has not only intensified the contradictions of the regime, which, on the one hand, uses violence to prevent citizens from exercising faith, but on the other hand, receives the Pope with all honours; it has also shown that the Church is too lenient with the government and stays away from the conflicts of dissident Catholics.

Most of the independent journalists writing for us agree that people are disillusioned about the Church; some wonder if it’s the Pope’s responsibility to do something to change the situation in Cuba. The articles in this newsletter tell stories about days spent in jail during the Pope’s visit, about the wave of repression unleashed several weeks before the Pope’s visit, and they also analyse the controversial figure of Cardinal Ortega and narrate the history of the Catholic Church in the island with the aim to provide a complete view of the possible role of the Church in Cuba.

Most importantly, the last article brings a philosophical reflection on the relationship between the Church and the Cuban State – two antagonistic powers that have paradoxically, to the detriment of the people, become closer. Cuba seems to be still far from being a free State with a free Church.

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