Cuban cardinal’s prayers ignore real victims
Sometimes the echo of a prayer travels far, much too far.
Sometimes a prayer sounds less like a prayer and more like a political move.
Sometimes, as happened Sunday in Havana, that prayer reaches our ears in Miami and rattles our faith, breaks our hearts.
Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the highest Catholic authority on the island, and the Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba, Bruno Musaro, offered a Mass in the Cathedral of Havana to pray for the health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who had a cancerous tumor removed from his pelvis on Feb. 24 in the Cuban capital.
The cathedral was packed with the faithful, and in a country where the government all but prohibited religious worship until the 1998 visit of Pope John Paul II, the attendees included the foreign ministers of Cuba and Venezuela and other well-known Cuban government supporters.
No doubt Chavez needs the prayers. On so many levels, the strongman with a recurrence of cancer who wants to turn Venezuela into another bastion of totalitarian rule needs the prayers.
But where are the merciful public prayers and the dedicated homilies of the island’s Catholic hierarchy for those who suffer in Cuba at the hands of the ruthless Cuban government, a 53-year dictatorship supported by the likes of Chavez?
Where were the public prayers when dissident Orlando Zapata was languishing in a prison and then a hospital on the hunger strike that weakened him so much it killed him?
Where were the public prayers of the Catholic hierarchy when the founder of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan, was agonizing in a hospital, dying from a sudden and suspiciously contracted respiratory disease?
Are the prayers of Ortega and Musaro indeed prayers or politics, a calculated move of religious chess aimed at facilitating the highly anticipated trip of the Pope to Cuba later this month? Is being an oppressed Catholic, as long as one is a Catholic, good enough for a cardinal who has a history of falling short when it comes to defending his people but who appears to be highly attuned to the needs of the dictatorship?
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