Past and present Vatican, Church involvement in Cuban affairs – Status quaestionis

I am beginning to admire more and more the analysis of things Vatican by Andrea Galiarducci, who writes for CNA.

He has a status questionis post on Pope Francis and the involvement, past and present, of the Catholic Church in matters Cuban.  I found it helpful.  HERE

He sets the record straight and, at least for me, fills in some blanks and reminds me of things that had slipped my mind.

Have a look.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Traductora says:

    That’s a very good history of Church involvement in Cuba, an involvement which was of course directed at improving the conditions for the Church, for freedom of worship, etc. Please excuse me for making a comment that I made on the other Cuba thread, but I think the difference this time is that it seems that neither the Church nor the US benefitted from this or was even seeking to benefit anyone except the Castro regime. These were not “negotiations,” but an offer to flat-out accept the position of the opponent, while getting nothing in return. Even the release of Gross was not tied to this, but to the gift of three (or possibly 5) Cuban spies, one with a homicide conviction, who had been tried, convicted and legitimately jailed in the US.

    This is leaving aside the fact that Obama apparently did his entire end of the deal without the knowledge of anybody in Congress, and that he was assisted in this by the Pope, who in my opinion had no right to simply throw the weight of the Church behind Obama. Similarly, unless more information comes out later, this seems to have been a pretty speedy decision and it doesn’t appear that the Pope consulted any of his own Vatican diplomats or foreign policy staff either. So while there have been years of communication between the Vatican and the Castro regime, I don’t think this particular event was quite in line with the earlier ones.

  2. cwillia1 says:

    Cuba remains a vicious, totalitarian state. It may be that the Church has a little more room to operate than in the past. US policy has been to continue the embargo until Cuba is free. There is no sign that the Communist aristocracy is ready to free the Cuban serfs, much less restore the property of the people who fled and were stripped of everything as the price for their freedom.

    All of that said, one could argue that diplomatic relations and an easing of the embargo would improve conditions in Cuba. The case should be argued.

  3. yatzer says:

    I know a college student who went to Cuba last year on a school-sponsored trip. She came back with nothing but glowing praise for everything about the place. No doubt the areas they were shown were admirable, and evidently no one from the faculty who accompanied them ever mentioned any distressing details about murder and repression. I tried to bring it up and was immediately given the brushoff, accompanied by a pitying expression.

  4. Dennis Martin says:

    Strange that none of the wizards of smart writing about this have thought to compare this to the history of the role of John Paul II and the Church in Poland. At a crucial point the regime wanted the bishops to step in and carry the negotiations with Solidarity. John Paul (wisely, in my view) advised them to refuse but to insist that the regime face up to the mess it had created and take responsibility for the interface with Solidarity. The regime knew that momentum was shifting, that the Solidarity was on the verge of winning the long struggle and sought the Church’s help as a last ditch effort to stave off the inevitable. Pope Wojtyla was too smart for that. He did not want the Church to become the regime’s crutch or enabler and thereby prolong the agony.

    Is the difference that there is no Solidarity equivalent in Cuba, no movement of solidarity between Catholics and secular dissidents who cannot be divided and conquered by the regime? Is the difference that the pope did not, in 1998, succeed in sending the kinds of signals that he sent in 1979 to the Polish people: know your heritage, know who you are, you are Christians, that cannot be taken from you by any government of men, the downfall of the regime will not be a political or military uprising but a steadfast spiritual/intellectual/heart resistance?

    Was that impossible in Cuba because the Communists took over a Poland with a Church that already had years of experience opposing a God-hating murderous regime whereas the lying Communist “no-I’m-not-a-communist thug Fidel Castro took over from an utterly discredited authoritarian regime that the Church in Cuba had . . . . . .(not) opposed?

    I’m sure there are other differences that others can speak to far better than I. But I find it odd that it would seem that the popes and papal diplomats have in some ways done in Cuba over the last 15 years exactly what John Paul refused to do in Poland from 1979 to 1989.

    Or am I missing something?

  5. excalibur says:

    Francis is Argentinian, and with that comes a certain poisoned view of the USA, and tiny Cuba standing up to the ‘Titan of the North’. You cannot read Francis except through his Argentine roots. This is a mess. I can’t wait until the Synod in October to see what other wonders of the post modern world Francis has in store. I pray daily for Francis.

    Obama is a disaster, yet all we have Boehner opposing him. Ugh. Obama is only just getting started on his final 24 months and I seriously doubt that if Congress does not stop him that we can survive.

    Already 20% of all jobs are held by immigrants, legal and illegal, while Americans are hard pressed to get work. Aided and abetted by the Catholic Church I might add with its immigration stand.

  6. tcreek says:

    When Pope John Paul went to Cuba in 1998 the talk was that this would be the death knell for Castro’s regime. In fact the trip and photo ops with the pope enhanced Castro’s hold on the people. This will do the same.

    Maybe the U.S. should enforce the Monroe Doctrine to keep the Vatican from meddling with the political situation in the Caribbean. The Vaticanistis could then focus on “Seeking First, the Kingdom of God” which is their charge but failing miserably.

  7. jhayes says:

    Cardinal O’Malley’s view:

    This week, we were delighted to receive the news that Allan Gross had been released from prison and that the United States and Cuba are on a path towards normalization of diplomatic relations after so many decades of isolationist policy. This is going to have profound changes in the lives of millions of people. We are very pleased that our Holy Father had an important role in these negotiations. It certainly is part of the mission of the Church to promote reconciliation and peace between peoples. We understand that some people are very much in favor of maintaining the embargo, but so many people were suffering because of that. After 54 years, it obviously was not an effective way of forcing a change in government in Cuba. So, now on a new path, hopefully more will be able to be achieved.

  8. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thanks to jhayes for drawing attention to Cardinal Seán’s observations!

    A couple casuistical (?) questions:

    Were “so many people […] suffering because of that”, or were and are they (primarily) suffering because of the policies of a dehumanizing dictatorship?

    That is a distinct and weightier point than if “it obviously was not an effective way of forcing a change in government in Cuba”, though that is weighty enough in its own right.

    What reason is there to think “on a new path, hopefully more will be able to be achieved” – rather than less, insofar as the tyrannized people of Cuba seem more thoroughly put at the ‘mercy’ of their abusers?

    Bearing in mind what Dennis Martin says, one would have expected much more from Pope St. John Paul II than his own apparent ‘Cuba policy’ – and not only, as tcreek seems to suggest, with respect to his visit there in 1998: for example, while this address arguable lays down some interesting lines to read between, how disappointingly weak, and worse, its tone and content:

    What “commitment of the Cuban Authorities to maintaining and developing the goals they have succeeded in achieving with effort in the areas of health care, education at various levels and culture in its different expressions” might that be – to facilitating, or ensuring, what I understand to be the highest abortion rate in the western hemisphere, or the ‘education’ characterized by that of the forcibly ‘repatriated’ Elián González in his saying his brief taste of freedom in the U.S. “were very sad times for me, which marked me for my whole life”?

  9. SKAY says:

    I have been thinking about Saint John Paul II also Dennis Martin.

    “The regime knew that momentum was shifting, that the Solidarity was on the verge of winning the long struggle and sought the Church’s help as a last ditch effort to stave off the inevitable. Pope Wojtyla was too smart for that. He did not want the Church to become the regime’s crutch or enabler and thereby prolong the agony.”

    I agree. He knew exactly who and what he was dealing with and what they were trying to do to
    the Church. How wise he was.
    Fortunately there were other world leaders at that time who understood that also.
    I never think it is a good thing when the ACP is very supportive of a person elected as President of this country.
    yatzer, your comment about the student who visited Cuba shows the state of our education institutions right now. History is being turned upside down and truth has no meaning.

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