One Can Pray

His Holiness, Benedict the latest and greatest, has been kind enough to bless us with his presence here in the US, Popemobile and all.
The president even presented him with a decadent birthday cake the size of a compact car for his birthday. I’m guessing that broke a few of the seven deadly sins, but let he who is without sin have their cake and eat it too.
The Vatican, of course, is above politics and doesn’t lecture world leaders about the shortcomings of their governments and embarrass them in public. Or so we were told when Cardinal Bertone visited Cuba recently. In Cuba, the Roman did as the Cubans do and blamed the U.S. “embargo” for Cuba’s fifty years of misery.
While celebrating Mass in the United States however, the Pontiff, saw fit to chastise America for its past sins.

“To be sure, this promise was not experienced by all the inhabitants of this land; one thinks of the injustices endured by the native American peoples and by those brought here forcibly from Africa as slaves.”

At the risk of excommunication, one can also think that an ex-Hitler-Jugend who now heads a Church that has been responsible for its share of “injustices” should not be throwing stones in that glass cathedral. Perhaps Benedict may want to visit Gettysburg while he’s in the D.C. area to see the steep price that America paid for its “original sin” of slavery. And maybe he can visit the Seminole Hard-Rock Casino in Hollywood to see the Native American’s unfulfilled promise of the American dream.
But, back to Cuba and the Church.
Today, as Cigar Mike points out, Cuban author, poet, ex-political prisoner and devout Catholic, Armando Valladares, addresses the Vatican’s political duplicity in a Wall Street Journal Op.Ed.

The Catholic Church has taken a hardline position against right-wing dictatorships. But in Cuba, the Church has been silent – or worse – ever since 1960, when Fidel Castro expelled hundreds of Catholic priests because they alerted their parishioners of the communist danger surfacing in government circles.

Valladares adds…

By pressuring the U.S. to lift the embargo, Cardinal Bertone plays the sad role of an effective ambassador of Cuban communist diplomacy. He also subverts the appraisal of Cuba’s real “crucial problems” when he denounces the external embargo, while remaining silent about a communist regime that muzzles and holds in misery 11 million souls.

It is very easy, you see, to criticize the United Sates. Anyone can do it. It takes absolutely no courage. In fact, It’s encouraged.
But, to go into the lion’s den, to go to Hell on Earth and stare down evil, that’s a different story. That’s the stuff of martyrs like Boitel.
One can pray that Benedict, whose strong condemnation of the “dictatorship of relativism”, which has so far been the defining message of his papacy, will meditate on the moral relativism of pleading the case of the terrorists being held on the 45 square miles that comprise the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba…

(The statement also said Bush and Benedict “touched on the need to confront terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and his or her rights” – an apparent reflection of the Vatican’s strong condemnation of the mistreatment of prisoners.)

… while the rest of people on the remaining 110,815 square miles live oppressed, without respect for their person or rights and in misery, under a dictatorship that is not relative but absolute, under a tyranny that he is helping to legitimize and failing to condemn.
One can pray.

13 thoughts on “One Can Pray”

  1. For what it may be worth, here’s my e-mail to the Vatican concerning Bertone’s trip to Havana:
    Soy cubano y sigo creyendo en Dios, pero ya no creo en el Vaticano, pues su jerarquía ha perdido mi confianza y mi respeto. No una, pero muchas veces, el Vaticano se ha portado sumamente mal con la sufrida Cuba. El más reciente ejemplo, la visita a La Habana del Cardenal Bertone, ha sido una grave ofensa para todo cubano digno. El cardenal no se comportó como hombre de Dios, sino como político vulgar, dispuesto a cualquier cosa para conseguir su meta. No conseguirá más que migajas de la dictadura, pero el daño a la imagen de Roma en la mente del cubano pudiera ser irreparable.
    La foto del cardenal (, sonriendo de oreja a oreja y estrechando la mano sangrienta de un dictador asesino y ateo, uno de los máximos responsables de la tragedia cubana, es exactamente lo mismo para los cubanos que si lo hubiera hecho con Hitler, Stalin o Mao. Repito, exactamente igual. La foto me pareció una obscenidad. Esa foto, y todo lo que representa, resulta un insulto y una burla hacia la miseria y el sufrimiento de un pueblo angustiado y oprimido por medio siglo. El Cardenal Bertone tuvo duras palabras para los Estados Unidos, pero ni una sola palabra de condena contra la horrenda dictadura cubana que es infinitamente peor, y el Vaticano bien lo sabe. Los anfitriones del cardenal en Cuba deben haber quedado muy complacidos, pero el pueblo cubano ha quedado amargamente decepcionado una vez más. Ese pueblo esperaba mucho mejor de quien dice ser mensajero y representante de Cristo. Da pena y vergüenza, y muy justa ira.
    Pudiera decir mucho más, pero sé que casi seguramente estoy perdiendo mi tiempo. Escribo más por desahogo que por otra cosa. Si a Roma le importara lo que piensa y siente el pueblo de Cuba, no lo hubiera herido tantas veces, como ha hecho de nuevo. Cuando nuestra Guerra de Independencia, el Vaticano se puso de parte de España, a pesar de las barbaridades cometidas por los españoles, sobre todo bajo el mando del General Weyler, que causaron cientos de miles de muertes de civiles inocentes. Así y todo, los cubanos perdonaron, lo mismo a Roma que a España, y ambos les han pagado mal. Los tiempos han cambiado, y el pueblo de Cuba está harto de décadas de indiferencia, traiciones, hipocresía y oportunismo de casi todo el mundo. La imagen del Cardenal Bertone sonriendo con un asesino, mientras cubanos sin delito se pudren en las cárceles y todo un pueblo sufre, difícilmente será olvidada.
    Sin ilusiones,
    Un cubano cualquiera
    There has been no reply, nor will there be.

  2. “those brought here forcibly from Africa as slaves.”

    But surely His Holiness has heard of Padre Las Casas, perhaps the individual most responsible for the initiation of the African slave trade in the Americas, which was established by a Catholic nation (Spain) long before there was a place called the United States…Does His Holiness wag his finger at the Spanish for this, or at the memory of Padre Las Casas?

  3. There is no question that the Church in Cuba has not been as radically confrontational with the regime as its counterparts in El Salvador or Nicaragua were during the years of civil strife in those countries. But I will say that part of the problem with the Catholic Church is that unlike like their counterparts in Central America, the Cuban church lacks access to even the most rudimentary forms of communication to get its message out. Several years ago, I visited with a Cuban priest who recounted to me how he had been arguing about having greater access to Cuban radio to offer the mass on the airwaves and that way reach people in the countryside. The local official responded, saying something like “ay padre, que frescura, que le parece si en vez le damos un caballo para que llegue a todos los pueblitos del campo.” His answer was, “bien que me den un caballo, siempre y cuando no me lo vayan a confiscar”. All of this is to say, that while Bertone’s meeting with Raul is troubling, there are many Cuban church officials constantly fighting battles that never make the papers but that serve as important challenges to the regime.

  4. Can you imagine the uproar if an American President went to the Vatican and criticized the Catholic Church for its past injustices? It would have to be a long speech in any case.

  5. The particulars of Bertone’s visit to Havana are far worse than “troubling.” At least Armando Valladares, a far better Catholic than I ever was, appears to think so and has said it in print. The fact the Bertone trip is not an isolated incident but clearly part of a longstanding pattern is EXTREMELY disturbing, not to say repugnant. I may not know what the Vatican is playing at or why, but it looks, talks and acts like something very, VERY bad.

  6. Asobra,
    Would the word “encojonante” be better? BTW, I think I just invented that word. I was just trying to point out that the Church isn’t Bertone–many of Cuba’s parish priests and seminarians struggle each day to live by their coda in island prison where the Christian idea of love and mercy have been replaced by 50 years of Patria o Muerte. Let’s not paint with too broad a brush here. I know we are Cubans and that is difficult but lets try.

  7. Is He kidding about the native americans, does he know about how many indians were killed and blessed by priests before they died at the hands of the Catholic Forces of Queen Isabel ?
    Or he just trying to cover up their own sins during the inquisition where the Church tortured and muredered thousands of Jews.
    Christian Church yeah Right !

  8. I don’t expect the Church IN Cuba to be able to say or do all that much, at least not anything we could ever hear about here. Chances are there are a lot of good things going on “underground” by some brave padres and their flocks that we won’t hear about until Cuba is free. Though I am a Protestant, I do expect to meet more than a few Cuban Catholics in Heaven and hear them be told “Welcome home, my Child, well done!”

    But I do expect the Church OUTSIDE of Cuba, particularly the folks at the Vatican — who do not face the threats the Cuban people face and are in fact bulletproof as far as even Castro & Co. are concerned — to step up and tell the truth in Havana, not just DC.

  9. Zhangliqun,
    Let’s assume that Bertone went to Cuba and excoriated the regime for its policies. What is the endgame of doing that? The regime would call the Church interventionist, clamp down on the clergy and its services–including its various soup kitchens in small town in Cuba where hunger is a major problem, especially among the eldery that don’t have access to dollars or Euros–and marginalize it even further in Cuban society. I had a priest tell me that he didn’t have to talk about politics to expose the regimes failures–his ministry to the poor, the hungry, and the imprisoned spoke more than any speeches. It may not be sexy, but struggling to build a soup kitchen can be a powerful tool.

  10. This pope with delusions of grandeurspoke at the UN. He criticized that UN decisions were controlled by only a few. Hmmm… another jab at the US on US soil. I think the Book of Revelation has him and his organization pegged well as the great whore of Babylon.

  11. “Let’s assume that Bertone went to Cuba and excoriated the regime for its policies. What is the endgame of doing that?”

    I don’t know, maybe the same endgame that Benedict’s predecessor had in Poland and Eastern Europe in general?

    John Paul II wasn’t afraid to speak out about Communism in Poland, and contrary to popular myth, Pius XII wasn’t afraid to speak out against Nazism and fascism. The Church has a history of boldly standing up to totalitarianism but apparently that’s just what it is now, history.
    You can pretend the Vatican has a secret plan to end Castroism in Cuba if you want, but it’s plain as day that they’ve lost either their nerve or their ability to tell good from evil. Maybe the latter given how they denied and kid-gloved (so to speak) the pedophile scandals.

  12. Mira, Mira:
    Bertone didn’t have to kiss up to the regime, praise it and become its ambassador of goodwill either. That’s what Valladares is pointing out. And now, Benedict comes to the defense of the terrorists in GITMO, while ignoring the plight of our the innocents in the rest of Cuba. The Vatican’s stance is indefensible regardless of the good work that individual priests may be doing in Cuba. But one can pray….

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