The reaction to the visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba by the vast majority of Cuban exiles throughout the world has been one of disappointment. Naturally, there are those who like to portray this reaction as the rumblings of hardliners and intransigents consumed by hatred, unable and unwilling to understand what they describe as the pope’s subtle diplomatic nuances. But there are some non-Cubans who are looking at the pope’s visit to Cuba from an objective perspective, and no surprise to us hardline intransigents, they came to the same conclusion we came to.
Here are a couple of examples:
The Pope in Revolution Square
Nina Shea does tremendous work, but I find her take on the Pope’s visit to Cuba to be off the mark, if not naïve. What Cuba needed was the kind of Holy Father who visited Nicaragua in 1983 and told off Sandinista theologian and state minister Ernesto Cardinal. Instead, Benedict — traveling as a “Pilgrim of Charity” — refused to clearly show any charity towards Cuba’s persecuted Catholics. He had some swell public handshakes with Raul Castro, on whose stained hands is the blood of many Cuban foes of tyranny, and a glorious tête-à-tête with Fidel, who remains fidel . . . to oppression, but a mention of the Ladies in White? Nada.
Nina writes about the Mass:
The first reading (Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95) was the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who “defied the order of the king” and were thrown into a fiery furnace as punishment. As the pope put it: “The three young men persecuted by the Babylonian king preferred to face death by fire rather than betray their conscience and their faith.”
At that moment, images of the Ladies in White, their imprisoned loved ones, Dr. Oscar Biscet, Elizardo Sanchez, and Cuba’s legions of other persecuted dissidents over the past half-century must have been in the forefront of everyone’s minds.
No, it must not have been. But it would have been if the Pope said so forcefully and directly, without shrouded hints or mystical nuances. He had the moxie to hit the US embargo, he should have shown the moxie of true charity by speaking out for the oppressed. I guess the upside for Cubans is that the cock crowed, and the heir of Peter denied them, so this upcoming Passion Week brings them closer to the Christ of Gethsemane and The Cross. But damn, shouldn’t they have been brought closer to political freedom? Again, it’s something another Holy Father would have done, and did do. But I guess the freedom of Cubans doesn’t equate to the freedom of Europeans.
By the way (I): It’s been reported today that the Castro regime arrested several of the Ladies in White before they could attend the Papal Mass. Well, they were at the forefront of someone’s mind (unfortunately, the head of state security).
By the way (II): The bravest man in Cuba was this solitary soul, who shouted “down with communism!” at the Papal Mass, and was then led away, to await what torments one shudders to consider.
In Cuba, Pope Disappoints Friends of Democracy
On March 28, Pope Benedict XVI completed his six-day visit to Mexico and Cuba. In both stops, the Pope sought to propagate the faith and demonstrate the connectivity between faith and the moral and spiritual conditions of modern man.
In Cuba, the Pope did not visit with those who speak in opposition to the Castro regime. He did meet with a visibly aging, weakened Fidel Castro.
Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi said the Pope granted a meeting to Fidel Castro—but not to dissidents who had requested the same—out of the church’s respect for its Cuban government hosts. “When the pope comes to a country…he has to take into account all the requests and suggestions of the authorities.” He added, “It is the authorities who invited the Holy Father to the country.”
NBC, which seldom pays attention to Cuban repression, dispatched Andrea Mitchell to the island for the papal visit, where she too noted an unwillingness to carve out time for a meeting with those who stand for liberty.
The Pope made no mention of jailed American Alan Gross and pleased his Cuban hosts by denouncing the U.S. trade embargo. The visit also gave greater prominence to the mediating role of the Catholic Church on the island and the work of Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
The Cuban regime stepped up repression aimed at keeping dissidents away from the Pope. Cell phones went dead all over the island. More than 200 peaceful dissidents were rounded up before the Pope’s arrival to prevent them from showing up at his public meetings, human rights groups reported. A dissident who shouted “down with communism” during the pope’s Mass in Santiago de Cuba was beaten and arrested in front of cameras.
While human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Freedom House have all spoken up about continued repression in Cuba, the Vatican remained distressingly silent on the latest incidents and crackdown.
The question, then: Did the Castro brothers win a tactical victory in the battle for survival of their crumbling revolutionary model? Perhaps.
Continue reading the article HERE.
I guess Fowler and Walser will now be classified as intransigent hardliners consumed by hatred.