Friday, March 27, 2015

Cardinal Ortega Says Cuba-U.S. Relations to Benefit Catholic Church on Island

Cardinal Ortega Says Cuba-U.S. Relations to Benefit Catholic Church on

HAVANA – Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega said that the new chapter in
U.S.-Cuba relations will be "very beneficial" for the Catholic Church on
the island, adding that the dialogue between the Church and the
government of Raul Castro has not "broken down" and is "continuing."

The top Catholic official in Cuba made his remarks in an extensive
interview published in the most recent issue of the Cuban Catholic
magazine Palabra Nueva, in which he commented on the mediating role
played by the Church and, in particular, how Pope Francis participated
in the negotiation process between Havana and Washington.

"What occurred on Dec. 17 was an historic event, one of the biggest in
Cuban history, as was the visit of Pope John Paul II, as was the Cuban
Revolution," said Ortega, who believes that "the (Cuban) people in
general are happy with this new situation."

He said that the improvement in bilateral relations "will be very
beneficial for the Church," in particular for its "charitable mission,"
given that it will facilitate the receipt of external aid and the fact
that the U.S. economic blockade has been making that more difficult.

The archbishop of Havana said that he spoke about those restrictions
with the assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere
Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, who is heading the U.S. delegation in the
dialogue with Cuba, and he added that "participants" in both parties
believe that the Church's role in the process "should continue."

On the other hand, Ortega expressed regret that many Cubans harbor a
"economic skepticism" that limits their expectations for the bilateral
rapprochement to the impact it will have on their pocketbooks, and he
warned that "such thinking makes them victims of an individualism that
has been created in Cuba, perhaps as an exaggerated reaction to

"Altruism, patriotic ability is lacking, elevated thinking that leads
one to think about the nation, about the future, in a very broad way ...
Perhaps all this is happening because Cubans have become accustomed to
not participating but being spectators of events, while action remains
for history, the role of the two presidents, the pope, the Church," he said.

Upon being asked about another dialogue, namely the one opened in 2010
by the Catholic Church and the Cuban government that resulted in the
release of dozens of political prisoners on the island, Ortega said that
"a process of great fluidity has been established that should continue."

Source: Latin American Herald Tribune - Cardinal Ortega Says Cuba-U.S.
Relations to Benefit Catholic Church on Island -

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