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The Church's collaboration with Communism

Poland and Cuba

Armando F. Valladares

Even more serious than the ecclesiastical collaboration of various nations with Communist secret police services, is the ideological identification of Cuban Bishops with the goals of Communism. For example, the totally complacent and even praiseful declarations about the Cuban regime and its dictator made by many Cardinals and high ranking ecclesiastics who went on pilgrimage to the island-prison.
The admission made by Warsaw's Archbishop, Mons. Stanislaw Wielgus, of his collaboration with the sadly celebrated Sluzba Bezpiecenstwa, the political police of Poland's Communist regime, struck and filled with horror the consciences of Polish Catholics and the entire world. In face of the evidence presented by the Church Historical Commission of Poland, the recently named Archbishop of Warsaw, who up to that moment had denied the accusations, admitted his guilt and was obliged to resign his position.

Fidel Castro receives John Paul II

In 1998 Castro receives John Paul II, who went there to lobby for the lifting of the international embargo against Cuba
Not a few delicate questions surface around this episode. For example, how is it possible that Vatican diplomacy, considered one of the best and most well-informed in the world, was not aware of the serious antecedents related to the spying activities of said Pastor against his own flock? Such ignorance reached such a point that, when the denunciations against Msgr. Wielgus were at their height, the Vatican Press Office sent out a note in defense of the high ranking prelate and his nomination, affirming in writing:

"When the Holy See decided on the nomination of the new Archbishop of Warsaw, it took into consideration all of the circumstances of his life, among which were found those relative to his past." (Zenit News Agency, Rome, January 6, 2007).

Few facts in contemporary Church history in Communist countries could be graver than the case of Archbishop Wielgus, especially when, according to experts, his activities on behalf of the secret service of the former Communist regime of Poland may constitute the tip of the iceberg regarding ecclesiastical collaboration in Poland and other Communist regimes.

In this sense, as far as Communist Cuba is concerned, I take the liberty to note a particularly painful and lamentable antecedent that I had the occasion to write about in the book, Against all Hope, my memoires of 22 years in Castro prisons, the facts of which have never been disproved to this day. In December of 1980, the three young Garcia Marin brothers sought asylum at the Nunciature of Havana. They left the asylum only with promises of safety made by persons who came there dressed in ecclesiastical clothing, using the Nunciature's own automobile. In reality, they were not ecclesiastics, but agents of the Cuban political police who snatched them out of the Nunciature in this deceptive way. Once out, they were savagely tortured and finally executed (1).

There is a difference between Poland, where because of collaborationist acts of the political police the Archbishop of Warsaw resigned, and Cuba, where these three indefensible youths were handed over to the Communist regime by the Apostolic Nunciature. The Nunciature is in fact the actual Embassy of the Holy See and enjoys the privilege of extra-territoriality. Yet it has never been found that any measures were taken, not even a warning, against the Nunciature of that epoch and against other ecclesiastics who were also involved in this deplorable episode.

Fidel Castro, enemy of Catholicism

Castro, an implacable persecutor of Catholics
Moreover, there is something graver than collaboration with the Communist secret police, something that, without a doubt, when my beloved Country recovers its liberty, a Commission of the Ecclesiastical History of Cuba will investigate with rigor and objectivity. That is, the ideological identification of the Cuban Bishops with Communist goals, such as I showed in an article (2). It also deals with the Latin American Liberation Theology, which, with the help of the Cuban Bishops, was transformed into a theology of collaboration with the regime. Finally, the article describes the complacent and even praiseful statements about Cuban Communism and its dictator, implacable persecutor of Catholics, made by a long series of high ecclesiastics, some of them Cardinals, who made pilgrimages to that island-prison.

Three such Prelates crowned their ecclesiastical careers as Cardinal Secretaries of State of the Holy See in this way (3).

I saw it as an obligation of conscience to write articles about each of the trips of these Cardinals and high ranking ecclesiastics, to provide evidence in the archives of Diario Las Americas of Miami. I will place these articles at the disposition of readers, providing they send me an e-mail requesting them.

In contrast to the statements, acts, omissions and silences of such high ranking collaborating Prelates, there shines the glorious stars of Cardinals Midszenty, Stepinac, Slypyj and Korec, along with many other Cardinals and Prelates who, following in the steps of the Savior, were Pastors always disposed to give their lives for their respective flocks.

I remember with enormous perplexity reading the texts by John Paul II and various Cardinals in which pardon was asked for what was considered to be past and present sins committed by the sons of the Church. Among them I could not find a single reference to the complicity – by act or omission – of so many ecclesiastics with Communism in Cuba, in countries of Eastern Europe, and in China over the last decades. Nor was there mention of the devastations caused to the Catholic flock provoked by the "liberation theologians" of Marxist inspiration.

This blatant absence filled me with perplexity, and even anguish. In effect, if one is to identify and admit to faults, can there be a more grave matter in this recently ended 20th century than the Church’s collaboration with an "intrinsically perverse" ideology, responsible for the greatest religious and political persecution of History, which included the massacre of 100 million persons? How can such an omission be explained? (4)

These respectful reflections and filial questions of a Cuban ex-political prisoner and faithful Catholic, whose faith was fortified when he heard the shouts of youthful Catholic martyrs who were executed by firing squads shouting "Long Live Christ the King! Down with Communism!!” are also asked by millions of Cubans inside and outside the island. How greatly I desire that they would rise to the Throne of Saint Peter itself, in search of a wise answer.

1. A. Valladares, Against all Hope, Barcelona: Plaza y Janes, 1985, p. 416.
2. A. Valladares, "Cuban Bishops, the National Cuban Ecclesial Meeting and Castroism without Castro", Diario las Americas, Miami, January 12, 2007.
3.A. Valladares, "The Cuban Drama and the Vatican Silence” and "Cuba: Shepherd Wolves Celebrate a 'Constructive and Friendly' Meeting"), Diario Las Americas, April 26, 2003, November 29, 2005.
4. A. Valladares, "The Request for the Pardon that Never Came: Ecclesiastical Collaboration with Communism", Diario Las Americas, March 22, 2000.
Posted June 18, 2007

Armando Valladares, Cuban ex-political prisoner, is the author of the book
Against All Hope which narrates his 22 years in Castro prisons.

Valladares was US Ambassador to the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission
under the Reagan and George Bush I Administrations.

E-mail: armandovalladares2005@yahoo.es


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