Ladies in White

Posted on Sunday, 04.01.12

The readers' forum

Catholic Church stifles Cuba's

Pope Benedict XVI should never have accepted the terms and conditions
insisted upon by the Cuban dictatorship for his trip to Cuba. By
strictly following the dictatorship's conditions, the trip ended up
constituting a sad demonstration of lack of solidarity toward the
oppression of the Cuban people.

It was inappropriate for the pope not to visit with the devoutly
Catholic Ladies in White. It was inappropriate for him not to mention
the sacrifice of Orlando Tamayo, Wilman Villar and Laura Pollán,
recent martyrs of Cuba's struggle for freedom.

It is common knowledge that the church's marriage of convenience with
the dictatorship was planned and guided by the collaborationist Cuban
Cardinal Ortega. But the fact that the cardinal may have been the
wedding planner does not justify the marriage.

It seems as though history has repeated itself in Cuba. I recently
re-read Jesuit scholar Manuel Maza Miguel's masterful account of Vatican
policy toward Cuba in the 19th century, Entre la Ideología y la
Compasión. Leo XIII, an erudite, respected pontiff, was an ally of many
just causes in his time, but he was no friend of Cuba's freedom.

Maza Miguel describes how Catholic churches were used as forts by the
of colonial in Cuba. "How can it be explained," he asks,
"that the extraordinary Leo XIII, who showed such solidarity toward the
working class, could not understand the justice of the Cuban struggle
for independence?" The Jesuit scholar continues, "The measures taken by
the Spanish ecclesiastical and civil authorities against those who
sought a new direction for Cuba decisively limited the presence and
vigor of Catholicism in the Cuban ethos."

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Miami

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