I have always subscribed to the notion that the vast majority of the problem with the Catholic Church in Cuba lies with its hierarchy. It is the leadership of Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, and the Cuban bishops and priests that blindly follow his direction that has led the Church to the dark place where it is now. Although blame can also be assigned to laypersons and churchgoers that have chosen to look the other way while their Archbishop sacrifices members of their flock to the wolves, in the end, God’s most severe judgment will be reserved for the leadership that knowingly and willingly led His Church astray.
However, not all Catholics in Cuba have surrendered their faith and their country to Cardinal Ortega. There are priests in Cuba who have refused to have the role of defenders of the innocent and advocates for freedom that their God, Church, and faith calls them to be compromised and impaired by the whims and machinations of a corrupt prelate. While Archbishop Jaime Ortega lives a charmed life in Havana, throwing wine and cheese parties for members of a murderous dictatorship, and enjoying privileges reserved for the Castro elite, there are priests in Cuba risking their lives to help not only the political prisoners rotting in Castro prisons, but the nation of Cuba and its 11-million people who have been enslaved by a brutal and vile dictatorship.
In Santiago, Cuba, at the National Basilica Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint, there is a priest by the name of Jorge A. Rodriguez who has risked everything to take a principled and Christian stand against the tyranny in Cuba. Directly opposing the tact of placating and surrendering to a wicked regime taken by his Church superiors, Father Rodriguez confronts the brutality of the Castro regime on a daily basis, and openly prays for the freedom of his country.
Father Rodriguez does not consider himself an extraordinary man, and he often wishes he could stay quiet and not provoke the ire of the regime and of his superiors. “I am a mouse, a coward,” he says, “but God gives me the strength.” Father Rodriguez explains that if he were to remain silent to the atrocities going on around him and keep them hidden inside, it would cause him to burst. It this determination to seek justice and to do the will of God, combined with the strength God provides him that makes this modest priest a priceless gem among worthless stones.
Below is a video of a visit by a Cuban American journalist made to the Basilica along with an interview with Father Rodriguez in Spanish. Listen to the words of Father Rodriguez, and imagine, if just for a moment, what things in Cuba would be like if Cardinal Ortega had a fraction of the courage, the conviction, and the faith possessed by this humble priest.