The Virgin According to the Popes / Lilianne Ruíz
Lilianne Ruiz, Havana, 9 September 2016 — The processions of the Virgin
of Charity, Patroness of Cuba, which took place yesterday, September 8,
on the island, made me recall with nostalgia the subject of this
article, Pope John Paul II.
Back in the '60s of the last century, the then auxiliary bishop of
Krakow, Karol Wojtyla was an activist for the right of the inhabitants
of the new workers' city of Nowa Huta, built on the outskirts of Krakow,
to have a church consecrated to the Queen of Poland, Mary, Mother of
God, under the patronage of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.
Therefore, the future Pope of the Christian millennium celebrated a
Midnight Mass in the open, more precisely in a frozen field, because of
all the years the communist government of Poland refused to authorize
the construction of a temple. In 1977 the new church was finally ready,
having taken ten years to build.
After celebrating the consecration ceremony, Wojtyla, at that time the
metropolitan archbishop, defender civitatis as tradition recognizes the
Bishop of Krakow, gave a different sermon, as a "voice crying in the
wilderness." He said:
"This city is not a city of people who belong to no one. Of people to
whom they can do what they want, who can be manipulated according to the
laws or rules of production and consumption . . . We hope that in our
country, with such a Christian and humanitarian past, these two orders —
The Light and The Word of God, and respect for human rights — will join
in a more effective way in the future."
Years later, when he came to be pope, he would lead a spiritual and
cultural crusade against totalitarianism; which was one determining
factor in the 1989 liberalizations throughout Eastern Europe,
establishing a new democratic order. While Reagan and Gorbachev played a
historic role in the nonviolent revolution, John Paul II was the
spiritual force that fatally wounded communism.
We Cubans currently ignore "where the shots come from," of Pope
Francis. The only thing that could excuse him for appearing so lukewarm
when it is time to issue a condemnation of the way of life under
socialism-communism, is the fact that he himself has never lived under
Life under such a political and economic model becomes miserable both in
terms of goods as well as in aspirations and opportunities. Not, as the
official propaganda tries to sell us, because of the US economic embargo
or as a result of mistakes in economic plans, whose very existence
violates fundamental freedoms, rather the scarcity of consumer goods and
of opportunities for the individual to develop his or her own life
project are the essential principle of the operation of the system.
Needless to say the socialist-communist state bases its stability on the
elimination of any attempt at mobilization and political dissent; and
not, as those who haven't taken the trouble to reflect on it believe, on
the ideological formula that tries to legitimate it in public opinion.
It is contradictory to listen to the Holy Father — from Krakow! — tell
young Cubans "Don't be afraid," just when the ecclesiastical authorities
on the island seem to limit themselves out of fear of political
reprisals by the Cuban government, which have already been notable.
The antiquated government discourse of the right of sovereignty and
nationalism as an ideological justification for the unlimited violations
and damages that a discretionary and arbitrary power inflicts
on individuals, on behalf of "social justice," is a fraud consistent
with the group in power determining what the needs are and distributing
the satisfactions of these needs to entitled members of society,
completely misrepresenting the needs of the human condition and its
aspirations; in fact, it can only be countered by a strong speech in
defense of human rights, by those who have the authority to make
Especially because the dignity of the human person promoting Catholicism
only becomes meaningful when states show respect for those rights. The
violation of which is what qualifies totalitarians as anti-humanists,
the biblical antichrist, specifically because they deprive human beings
of the consciousness of their individual moral
responsibility, inalienable like their freedom.
In response to the question of what should be the current policy of the
Vatican with respect to Cuba, the answer seems to refer more to the
Ostpolitik of the Holy See than to the extraordinary legacy of John Paul II.
This Ostpolitik led in its day to Pope John XXIII, author of
the encyclical Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) delivered in reference
to the nuclear crisis triggered by the installation of Soviet missiles
in our country, and it reminds us that in calling the Second Vatican
Council he was inspired by the maxim "save what can be saved" as a
reaction to the policy of communist governments to try to stifle
religious life to the point of extinction
It was the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Agostino Casaroli, who
was charged with developing the Ostpolitik in relation to the countries
of the Iron Curtain. But that policy would have defrauded the
liberalizing yearnings of millions of human beings, victims of
totalitarianism. John Paul II, unlike Casaroli, condemned such a
political model under the human faculty of discernment between good and
Most alarming in all this would be to conclude that the Polish Pope has
been an exception to the rule, or that the current pontiff is more
empathetic, due to his Argentine origin, with the "liberation theology"
of an anti-liberal and leftist trend, and is trying to interpret the
concept of the Kingdom of God on earth expressed in state
interventionism as a disciplinary power applied to society, to
"eradicate social injustice, the gap between rich and poor."
Either way, the question arises to which we Cubans still have no answer:
Can the Catholic Church be at peace with communism simply because of the
fact that it is not presented as atheism?
Like conquering the world, whatever politics says, in the dreams of
Cubans the Virgin of Charity is present. But not like the one of the
processions, so cold and distant, so like a superstition; but the living
one, the Mother of God, custodian of the name of every Cuban physically
and spiritually violated on the stocks of the Political Police's
repression, those who serve the masters of the only party.
The Virgin, also called mambisa — female freedom fighter — protector of
Cubans in the sea of the Florida Straits, companion of the deceased to
that other dimension where there will be no weeping, to her we Cubans
pray. And for the return of the democratizing wave, of the unforgettable
Pope John Paul II.
Source: The Virgin According to the Popes / Lilianne Ruíz – Translating