Cuba's Bishops Call for Political Freedom and New Relations With U.S.
In a new pastoral letter, they urge updating of the communist state's
laws to allow Cubans to exercise 'responsible freedom.'
BY CNA/EWTN NEWS 09/19/2013
HAVANA — In a new pastoral letter, the Cuban bishops said that in "the
hope for a better future," their government should begin political
reform, and the U.S. should adopt "an inclusive policy" towards their
"Cuba is called to be a pluralistic society … Cuba is the nation of all
Cubans, with their differences and aspirations, although it has not
always been this way," the bishops wrote in "Hope Does Not Disappoint,"
a pastoral letter delivered to the government and read in parishes Sept. 15.
"There should be a right to diversity with regards to thought, to
creativity, to the search for truth," they said. "Out of diversity comes
the need for dialogue."
The letter praises recent economic reforms undertaken by Raul Castro,
the nation's president. Castro succeeded his brother Fidel, a leader of
the 1959 communist revolution, as president in 2008. He has allowed
small private businesses, greater freedom for foreign travel and the
sale of homes and cars, and he has decentralized state businesses.
Despite these economic reforms, Castro has maintained that the Communist
Party will remain the only party allowed in the political sphere.
In response, the bishops said "we believe it is indispensable" to
"update" national legislation "in the political order."
"For some time there have been emerging opportunities for debate and
discussion at different levels and environments, sometimes created by
citizens themselves: intellectuals, youth and others who, from the
grassroots, have expressed in different ways their vision of the changes
necessary in Cuba with serious and diverse opinions and proposals," they
They pointed out that the country is no longer the same as it was
decades ago and that, in the emerging reforms, "a clear, although still
incomplete, reflection of the demands long-yearned-for by the Cuban
people" can be seen.
The bishops said they hoped reforms would continue to expand, for the
good of the people and for new generations of Cubans, many of whom have
yet to experience the conditions necessary for building a life for
Reforming U.S.-Cuba Relations
Citing the growth of globalization and interdependence, the bishops
noted the need for reformation of international relations.
"It is necessary to consider the relations of Cuba with the U.S., which,
during long decades, in different, constant and steady ways, has
affected the life of our people," they stated.
Since the 1959 revolution, the U.S. has maintained a crippling economic
embargo on Cuba, which has been slightly eased by the Obama administration.
The bishops quoted Blessed John Paul II, who said during a 1998 visit to
the country that "the isolation led to indiscriminate impacts on the
population, increasing the difficulties of the weakest in basic aspects
such as food, health and education," and calling for the end of "the
unjust and ethically unacceptable measures imposed from abroad."
The bishops also noted the large number of Cuban Americans in the U.S.,
pointing out that "geographical proximity and family ties between the
two nations are unavoidable realities that should be taken into account
to favor an inclusive policy … which can alleviate the tensions and the
suffering experienced by numerous persons and families, as well as a
just commercial exchange oriented to the benefit of all."
They said, "In this respect, we exhort you, too, to be encouraged to new
initiatives of dialogue, enabling that the wish of Blessed John Paul II,
that the world open up to Cuba and Cuba to the world, become a reality
for the benefit of all."
In addition, the bishops recalled the importance of the visits of both
Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI, which "marked our recent history
with the sign of hope."
Both popes, they said, "bore witness not only to the human and social
dimension, but also the religious dimension, of the Church's mission of
evangelization. Both referred to the spiritual and social reality Cubans
face today and in the future."
They also underscored the devotion to Our Lady of Charity, the patroness
of all Cubans, "regardless of race, class or opinion," and they
remembered last year's 400th anniversary of the image's finding.
Participation and Dialogue
The bishops noted that God's plan is that all his children enjoy the
goods of creation through responsible freedom.
They also said that government should be concerned with the common good,
and they denounced selfishness seen in "groups of power who do not
always represent everyone and do not show interest for those who are not
part of their circle."
"The participative state must definitively replace the paternalist
state," they said, encouraging Cubans not to fear "the development of a
strong and responsible social autonomy."
In their letter, the bishops repeated their call to dialogue, saying it
is "the only road to attaining and sustaining the social transformations
that are taking place in Cuba, as dialogue is always enriching, because
it provides the chance to contribute new ideas and solutions to the
problems or conflicts that we are facing."
"In the recent past, the Church's work of mediation, which led to the
release of dozens of prisoners, is a sign that this road is possible in
our country, and this should extend as well to other sectors and groups
in the nation," the bishops said.
They emphasized the importance of the family as "the school of humanity"
and the source of values. However, they warned that family life "has
greatly deteriorated, with grave consequences that have repercussions in
the lives of people and in society."
To promote "the desire to be good and the practice of virtue," the
bishops proposed that the Church work together with families, schools
and the media to educate youth.
They called on Christian youth to work toward a hope-filled future by
promoting the Gospel in Cuban society, saying their "enthusiastic
response … is necessary today to carry out the mandate from Christ to
renew the evangelization of our people without ceasing."
Source: "Cuba's Bishops Call for Political Freedom and New Relations
With U.S. | Daily News | NCRegister.com" -