Archbishop Wenski responds

Last Friday, December 10th, Human Rights Day, a group of Cuban Catholics attempted to visit Miami’s Archbishop Thomas Wenski to ask him to intercede with Cardinal Ortega in Cuba. Their intention was to deliver a letter, which pleaded that the Church in Cuba do something to protect Reina Luisa Tamayo against the constant brutal attacks the Cuban dictatorship has been committing against her and her family for the past few months. The group was turned away from the Archdiocese in Miami by security guards, and they were not allowed to deliver the letter to Cardinal Wenski.

Well it appears that the letter finally made it to the Cardinal via email, and he has responded. Below is my quick translation of Archbishop Wenski’s response.

From: Archbishop Thomas Wenski
Subject: The Zapata Family
Date: Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 10:21 AM

Dear friends:

Your letter in regards to the situation of Mrs. Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger describes a concern that I have always felt as my own regarding the situation of prisoners in Cuba. For me it has been very satisfying to see that the Cuban Church has had an opportunity to realize a humanitarian pastoral work when it contributed in an effective manner to the liberation of a significant number of prisoners of conscience with the consequent physical and spiritual relief for these Cuban families.

In the same manner, the Catholic Church in Cuba welcomed the pleas from one of Mrs. Tamayo’s sons, Jose Luis, who presented himself in the diocese of Holguin on October 11 of this year. He explained to the Bishop, Monsignor Emilio Aranguren that he would be traveling to Havana with his wife and children to attend an interview on October 14 with the U.S. Interests Section where a solicitation for a visa to leave the country under a program for Refugees and Political Prisoners had already been presented. Mr. Zapata also said that Reina Luisa and all her family desired to leave the country and were asking the church for their intervention in the matter. Bishop Aranguren took the necessary steps pertinent to the case and the Zapata Tamayo family had the support and assistance of the Chancellery of the Archdiocese to present the case before the Cuban government. The request for the exhumation and subsequent cremation of Orlando Zapata’s cadaver temporarily delayed the exit process for the Zapata family.

According to the bishop of Holguin, Monsignor Aranguren, a source close to this Archbishop, this past Thursday, December 9, Monsignor Ramon Suarez Polcari met with the Zapata family and informed them that as of that moment, they had not yet been granted the humanitarian visas from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana that the Catholic Church had been requesting for them. We trust that all this pastoral effort will also enjoy God’s favor.

I would like to clarify, in the interests of a better understanding of the pastoral work of the Cuban Catholic Church, that the initiative to solicit the Zapata Tamayo family’s exit from the country was presented by the Tamayo family itself. And that neither the bishop of Holguin, nor any other representative of the Cuban hierarchy suggested or encouraged Mrs. Reina Luisa Tamayo to abandon the country. The tempo of these steps has been determined only by the responses of the Cuban government to the requests from the Tamayo family.

I take this occasion to send you greetings and to pray to our God that He grant you all His blessings during this season of hope.

It was a very nicely penned missive. And Wenski has an impressive command of the Spanish language.

But to me, at least, that is all this letter is; a nicely penned missive by a man with a strong command of Spanish.

The original response in Spanish is available below the fold.

From: Archbishop Thomas Wenski
Subject: la familia Zapata
Date: Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 10:21 AM

Estimados amigos:Vuestra carta sobre la situación de la Sra. Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger describe una preocupación que siempre he sentido como propia sobre la situación de los presos en Cuba. Para mi ha sido de gran satisfacción ver que la iglesia cubana ha tenido la oportunidad de realizar una labor pastoral humanitaria al contribuir de manera eficaz en la liberación de un significativo número de presos de consciencia con el consiguiente alivio físico y espiritual para estas familias cubanas.

Así mismo, la iglesia católica de Cuba también acogió el ruego de un hijo de la Sra. Tamayo, José Luis, quién se presentó en el obispado de Holguín el día 11 de octubre del corriente año y explicó al Obispo del lugar, Monseñor Emilio Aranguren que viajaría a La Habana junto a su esposa e hijos para una entrevista el día 14 de Octubre en la Oficina de Intereses de los Estados Unidos pues tenía presentada una solicitud de visa para salir del país según un programa de Refugiados y Presos Políticos. El Sr. Zapata también dijo que la Sra. Reina Luisa y toda su familia deseaban salir del país y estaban solicitando la intervención de la iglesia en este asunto. El Obispo Aranguren hizo las gestiones pertinentes del caso y la familia Zapata Tamayo tuvo el apoyo y la asistencia de la Cancillería del Arzobispado para presentar el caso ante el gobierno cubano. La petición de exhumación y posterior cremación del cadáver de Orlando Zapata retuvo temporalmente los trámites de salida de la familia Zapata.

Según ha informado el Obispo de Holguín, Monseñor Aranguren, a una fuente cercana a este Arzobispado, el jueves pasado, día 9 de Diciembre, Monseñor Ramón Suárez Polcari, recibió a la familia Zapata y les informó que, hasta ese momento, no habían sido concedidas las visas por razones humanitarias que la iglesia católica ha estado gestionando para ellos ante la Oficina de Intereses de los Estados Unidos en La Habana. Confiamos en que todo este esfuerzo pastoral goce también del favor de Dios.

Quisiera aclarar, en aras de un mejor entendimiento de la labor pastoral de la iglesia católica cubana, que la iniciativa de solicitar la salida del país de la familia Zapata Tamayo fue presentada por la propia familia Tamayo y que el obispo de Holguín, ni ningún otro representante de la jerarquía cubana sugirió o animó a la Sra. Reina Luisa Tamayo a que abandonara el país. El ritmo de estas gestiones ha sido dado solamente por las respuestas del gobierno cubano a las solicitudes de la familia Tamayo.

8 thoughts on “Archbishop Wenski responds”

  1. “For me it has been very satisfying to see that the Cuban Church has had an opportunity to realize a humanitarian pastoral work when it contributed in an effective manner to the liberation of a significant number of prisoners of conscience with the consequent physical and spiritual relief for these Cuban families.”

    This liar needs to say about 3 million Hail Marys and a few billion Our Fathers after he confesses his sins.

  2. Wenski’s missive is not a commitment to do anything at all. He doesn’t even offer apology or an explanation as to why those Cuban American Catholics were turned away when they tried to deliver that letter to him. He does nothing more than restate what the Cuban Catholic Church has done and he presents the Cuban Catholic church’s intercessions which have resulted in the exile of so many dissidents [which is something positive for the tyranny] as something positive. How disappointing, but I’m not surprised. The Church is notoriously undemocratic and Wenski as well as Jaime Ortega, etc.. are doubtlessly following the Vatican’s official policy.

    To the Vatican, all that matters is the church in Cuba. If the church has to cowtow to the castro’s, ignore human rights abuses, if the Vatican’s top honcho in Cuba, Jaime Ortega, has to become spokesperson of the regime in Washington, so be it.

    Empty words, and useless rhetoric. Nothing else, nothing more.

  3. Ditto pototo, Rayarena,

    I’m so disgusted at both Jaime Ortega Alamino for being an accomplice of the Castro brothers to perpetuate their tyranny on the Cuban people and Monsignor Wenski for his arrogant attitude and total disregard for the suffering experience of the exile flock that he’s supposed to represent here in South Florida.

    Wenski’s total insensitivity towards the suffering of the Cuban dissidents in the island will certainly divide the Catholic community here in South Florida and speaks volumes on what kind of person he really is. In my view, he doesn’t deserve to represent this community any longer.

    These two characters were ordained as Catholic priests many years ago but they surely have lost their principles along the way and forgotten to stand-up for freedom and justice and to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, how terribly sad. They have surely have distanced themselves from the gospel and the values they have preached all these years.

  4. Regardless of his Spanish, Wenski is not a good fit for Miami. He would be much more apt for Boston or someplace in the NE. It’s the same sort of logic that put some Scandinavian guy as head honcho at the Miami Herald (though I think he has since moved or been moved elsewhere). As for the Vatican’s Cuba policy, the problem is in the Vatican, not Cuba and certainly not Miami. Ortega and Wenski are both company men, though Ortega may have other reasons for his conduct. Wenski is never going to say anything outside the Vatican line. At least he had the elementary sense to try to correct a totally gratuitous and ridiculously clumsy PR blunder, which he conveniently fails to mention. Just as he was quite possibly tipped off to the unwelcome visit beforehand by this blog, he may also have been persuaded to “make nice” by the negative publicity generated by this blog and others echoing it. But really, the whole incident is ultimately moot, since Wenski only follows and does not make Vatican policy. Appealing to him was never going to make much difference, certainly not as long as Ortega, the official RCC Cuba expert, remains in place and on his current course.

  5. “Regardless of his Spanish, Wenski is not a good fit for Miami.”

    Ditto asombra,

    If Wenski had any commonsense and dignity he should leave the Miami Archdiocese and go someplace else more fitting to his values because he’s completely out of touch with the feelings, the fifty one years plus of blood, pain and suffering of the Cuban-American members of this community that represents the biggest chunk of his flock.

    But I suspect his arrogance will get in the way of understanding that he must leave South Florida and go serve someplace else because if he stays he’ll continue to divide and polarize this Catholic community.

  6. All of this is stark evidence that despite the alleged economic and political power of the exile community, [we do after all have 2 senators, 4 congressmen, and dozens of mayors and state representatives], we are powerless! Any of these so-called deprived minorities have ten times more influence than we do.

    I’m sick and tired of people like Wenski who are supposed to represent us spitting on us instead. You can bet your bottom dollar that no archbishop in L.A. would never even think of rubbing the chicano community the wrong way.

    For example, if an archibishop in a chicano community came out in favor of Arizona, he would be removed quicker than un merenquito would last at a school’s doorsteps.

    We Cuban Americans better get our act together. This is ridiculous!

Comments are closed.