Cardinal Jaime Ortega Resigns From Cuban Bishops’ Conference
NEWS ANALYSIS: Will Pope Francis reformulate Vatican policy vis-à-vis Cuba?
HAVANA — With the announcement Nov. 14 that Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, 77, resigned from the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops, speculation began about a new era for the Church in Cuba.“The retirement of Cardinal Ortega is imminent,” Nestor Carbonell, an author, analyst and Cuban-American Catholic told the Register. “And that’s a healthy development.”
Appointed bishop in 1978 and cardinal in 1994, Cardinal Ortega submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI when he turned 75 two years ago, as is standard practice.
The Holy Father asked him to stay through last year’s papal visit to the island, then for celebrations around the 400th anniversary of Cuba’s patron saint, Our Lady of Charity, depicted in a small statue of the Virgin found floating in a bay in 1612.
When Pope Francis took charge, he said he needed time to study the situation in Cuba, according to sources at the Archdiocese of Havana.
Holy Cross Father Robert Pelton, the University of Notre Dame’s director of Latin American/North American Church concerns, thinks Pope Francis is poised to put his mark on the Church in Cuba.
He explained, “Besides the fact that Pope Francis is from Latin America, he has experienced dictatorship — he has learned from the process of his own personal suffering in Argentina — and because he knows that reality, he will provide the kind of leadership we need at this moment.”
“I have great admiration for the potential of the Cuban Church,” said Father Pelton, who has visited Cuba five times and will do so again in late November.
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