The Church That Is Oblivious to Reality / Angel Santiesteban
Posted on June 24, 2015
Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 23 May 2015 — The beatification of Father
Arnulfo Romero is the mirror where, for El Salvador, Latin America, and
the world, the pastors of God should look and reflect, in order to
attend the spiritual and material needs of their flock, which simply
means remaining alongside the aspirations and suffering of their people,
as an intrinsic part of the Church.
The churches, especially the Catholic Church, perhaps the least swayed
by dictatorial government—should accept pain as Christ showed us. I also
feel it is the duty and obligation of intellectuals through their works
to examine, discuss, and make suggestions regarding the disputes that
concern the populace. If the Church, the intellectuals, and the
opposition politicians join forces, the totalitarian power would not
abuse nor run over the most basic rights of Cubans.
You cannot count on the pastors of the Christian and Protestant
churches; most have acquired wealth like the new rich in these times of
crisis, or they are silent out of fear of losing their property and
being removed from their congregations.
The Catholic Church—beginning with the most glaring examples, Cardinal
Jaime Ortega and the national curia—has turned its back on its people,
humbling themselves before, and agreeing with every scheme of, the
military that misgoverns the nation.
What image does the Church present when it defends the dictatorship and
covers up its misdeeds, to the point of becoming an accomplice? When has
the top Church hierarchy called on the tyrants (or presidents, as they
prefer to call them) to defend the people from their injustices?
What credibility does the Church have if it is unable to raise its voice
to protect the brave and peaceful Ladies in White, who—Sunday after
Sunday—are harassed, beaten, and jailed right under their noses, just
opposite the church of Santa Rita, where they punctually attend mass?
What good are the words of the Bible if the actions of the Church
nullify the noble deeds they profess and advocate?
We do not want a bishop to be assassinated, as in the case of the
Blessed Romero; but we do need a bishop who is as close to God as to his
oppressed people, and who will confront injustice—barefoot, sweaty, with
patched, faded clothes, and above all, with that light in his eyes that
covers and guides his flock like a protective mantle.
Hopefully the day is coming when we will feel that the Church is an
extension of the people, and vice versa, and that its temples are our
houses, and we no longer encounter the feeling of alienation and
distance that has invaded us for some time, seeing them with their
expensive, spotless vestments, their rosy skin shielded from the sun’s
rays with creams, in their air-conditioned offices, or observing their
people from behind the windows of their automobiles.
At times, we’ve confused their speeches with the Party line, because
they never utter even a faintly critical word or suggestion to seek a
necessary and urgent change in Cuban society.
I don’t know who the candidates are to replace the current Cardinal, who
is already past retirement age. Hopefully it will be one of the
righteous, who is rooted in the people and does not fear the tyrant.
I can never forget Bishop Siro (from Pinar del Rio, now retired) who
always accompanied his flock, his people, without fear of consequences,
adding noble pages to the history that we who barely live in freedom
will one day collect, and which for now we keep in our affections.
I understand that in some way Father Conrado is a disciple of Bishop
Siro, or of the Blessed Romero, who in their own times and in their own
ways were not afraid of attacks by the hitmen of the dictators and of
the Church itself, which squelches any rebellion by its ministers.
We dream that the Church wins and regains its place in
society—especially among young people, who so badly need its ancient
wisdom, its fellowship, light, and love—and that some intellectuals
May 23, 2015, Border Prison Unit, Havana
Source: The Church That Is Oblivious to Reality / Angel Santiesteban |
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