09/24/2015, 00.00
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The Pope and the Church in Cuba have been a little 'too silent. Hopefully in the future ...

by Flavio Labrador
A Cuban exile makes an initial assessment of Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba, where he was unable to meet with dissidents. Among the hoped for results of this trip: that the Cuban Church also befriend the persecuted, among the poorest and most marginalized in society.

Miami (AsiaNews) - For Catholics, the Church is mother and teacher, and also wise, but often her actions towards governments or individuals are incomprehensible  for many. Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba in recent days is awakening a lot of questions in people around the world: Why does the pope not meet with the dissidents? Why did he not listen to their voices first hand, to their concerns, since they are among the people who suffer the most? Why not call things by their name, the "dictatorship" of the Havana government and publicly ask it to free Cubans from a life without persecution and without fear?

I have no answer to these questions, but I would at least talk of a Cuban reality different from what the world has seen in recent days. As a free human being, I want to write and say what I think of the communist regime in Havana and as a Catholic, what I'd like to see in the Church in Cuba, as fruits that I hope come from this visit.

It hurts to see the very people who mocked  (and insulted) God, the Church, the men and women religious, the Pope, welcome Francis as if it were a government respectful of human beings and their rights . And what hurts me most is knowing that it has no intention of changing.

The Cuban government, which has allowed John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis to celebrate the Catholic faith and Christian hope in Cuba, did not allow all Cubans of good will, to participate in these celebrations and travel to places visited by the pope . The communist regime laid siege to those places, justifying it with the guarantee of greater security. It blocked innocent people of good will, including defenseless women, from reaching the Pope and used repressive measures of all kinds. But  it did not use military uniforms: It repressed without uniforms, thus trying to deceive the world.

Raul Castro, who has shaken hands with the Pope after each  Mass, a couple of hours earlier, gave orders to prevent possible coup by force, out of hatred and fear of many Catholics, non-Catholics, believers, non-believers, even if they were all peaceful and defenseless people, who had arrived there to listen to the pope.

I wish this sad political reality that Cuba is suffering would end soon and I wish that the fruits of the Pope's visit would soon ripen. But for this to happen, we need a united and coordinated approach between the two most important parts of Cuban society: the people of Cuba and the Catholic Church.

I wish from now on, when the communist government accuses someone as a dissident, the Church looks at this person with mercy, understanding him or her and embracing their needs.

It is far more important that the Cuban Church rather than the Pope embrace the persecuted in Cuba[1]. That each and every day it embrace those who are persecuted for their beliefs. I would like the Church - as suggested by Francis - to serve these people. I would like to see the Church serve the fragility of these people every day as every day she serves the fragility of all the other people who knock on its doors. I do not want these people to feel excluded even within the Church, but the Church be a safe home and helping hand and encourage them in their work and in their peaceful struggle for the rights.

I understand that in order to obtain more space for the Church, parishes, hospitals and schools, we must take advantage of the cracks in the wall and use intelligence, dialogue and diplomacy. At the same time, I wish the Church in Cuba would publically and without fear support, recognize and value  ​​ those who - in the midst of a continuous and relentless repression - peacefully demand freedom.

I want the Cuban Church and its pastors to have more space in all of Cuban society, but I also want to avoid people being marginalized or silenced to reach these areas. Because people are the most important space and they come before all other strategies and goals.


[1] 1] In an interview with reporters, on the plane that took him to the US, Pope Francis responded to a question about his failure to meet with Cuban dissidents. See here (ed).

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See also
Pope in Cuba: Follow Jesus without fear or doubts
Francis-Kirill meeting in Cuba: “Finally! We are brothers. We have everything in common”
12/02/2016 02:03
Francis and Kirill: Orthodox and Catholics united vis-à-vis persecuted Christians and the secularised West
12/02/2016 00:52
Pope Francis, Raul Castro, Cubans: Who won and who lost
Pope in Cuba: Reconciliation among Cubans more important than ending embargo


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