What People Are Commenting
Pope: No to Cuban Dissidents
‘You Will Be an Accomplice of Communism…’
I ask you the favor of reading this news report on the Pope's coming visit to Cuba. Perhaps your readers are not aware of this healthy reaction among Cuban members of the opposition to the Communist dictatorship on the Island.
It was published in the Tablet magazine (London) of March 17, 2012.
Pressure has increased on Pope Benedict XVI to speak out in favor of human rights on his 26-28 March visit to the Communist Island of Cuba. Prominent dissident Guillermo Farinas has written to the Pope warning he would be an "accomplice" to the Communist Government if he failed to use his homilies to highlight the “beatings with impunity” inflicted on members of the opposition.
Additionally, Mr. Farinas called for the Pope to ask for the “release without exile of all political prisoners” and improvements in the “terrible prison conditions," reported the Spanish news agency EFE. Mr. Farinas, who won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for defending human rights in 2010, asked the Pope to meet “former political prisoners, civic opposition members, journalists and independent bloggers”.
The Women in White, a group representing mothers and partners of imprisoned dissidents, has requested “a moment” of the Pope’s time, but have been told it would be “very difficult” to arrange, according to EFE.
Pope: No to Dissidents; Yes to Fidel
I thought your readers should know this. Mike Gonzalez, who is of Cuban dissent, is Vice President of Communications at The Heritage Foundation,
Thanks for your good work.
Pope Benedict, Why Won't You Meet Cuba's Dissidents?
Mike Gonzalez, March 21, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Cuba, later this month had the potential to greatly advance the cause of human freedom, which is, after all, the continuation of Jesus Christ’s work on this earth.
During this visit the pope could meet publicly with dissidents to offer them a measure of protection from their tormentors. He could speak clearly and loudly about their dignity as human beings. He could point out that they shouldn’t be thrown in dungeons for speaking freely, or accosted in the street by government mobs, especially when they are on their way to Mass.
Alas and inexplicably, all of this potential may be thwarted, as the hierarchy of the Church in Cuba has let it be known that the pope has no time to meet with dissidents because his schedule is too tight. Adding insult to injury, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said that if Cuba’s ailing dictator Fidel Castro wants a personal meeting, “the pope will be available.”
It didn’t take long for Fidel’s little brother and designated successor, President Raul Castro, to recognize that he had a free hand. His security forces arrested dozens of dissidents Tuesday [March 20], ahead of the pope’s visit. There are reports today they have been released but told to stay away from Mass or make any attempts to see the pope.
The decision by the Church hierarchy in Cuba to abandon the dissidents and show obeisance to the Castro’s is a grave mistake, perhaps even a shameful one.
Even if the pope’s mission to Cuba is entirely about gaining adherents to the Church and deepening the belief of those already Catholic, this snub to those who are the future of Cuba and obsequiousness to dying dictators is sure to backfire and make young Cubans even more skeptical of the faith.
The present head of the Cuban Catholic Church, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, is known for his accommodations with Communism.... It seems that Pope Benedict has been taking advice from his man in Havana.
Cardinal Ortega, as The Washington Post said Tuesday in a rightly hard-hitting editorial, “has become a de facto partner of Raul Castro, meeting with him regularly and encouraging his limited reforms.”
The cardinal hit a new low last week when he asked authorities to enter a church in Havana to dislodge a group of dissidents who had sought peaceful sanctuary there. It was Cardinal Ortega, doubtless, who advised Pope Benedict not to meet with the dissidents.
The dissidents who have asked to meet with the Pontiff, known as "Las Damas de Blanco" aka "the Ladies in White," are very deserving of being granted an audience with the head of their Church. They are a group of defenseless women, mostly the wives and mothers of political prisoners, who bravely walk take their opposition message to the streets of Cuba, only to be met with violence by government goons.
The Castros, as all communists, have always been enemies of religion, especially the Catholic Church. For a very long time after the Revolution Cuba was officially atheist.
Standing up to dictators in extremely difficult circumstances is always difficult, and one needs courage. Cubans have practically no freedoms or civil rights, and has one third the Internet penetration of Haiti. … But Cardinal Ortega should be able to find strength and courage in thinking that the people of Cuba need his protection.
As for the pope, it may be too late by now for him to reconsider what is becoming a stained visit to Cuba, but it’s not too late to reverse a bad decision and meet with Cuba’s dissidents.
Posted March 22, 2012
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