From our Bureau of Memorable Missives
Maria Victoria Olavarrieta, a Cuban Catholic has written an open letter to Pope Francis. Read the Spanish original here.
She has much to say, sin pelos en la lengua (without hairs on her tongue). In other words, she lets him know what she really thinks of his lack of support for the oppressed people of Cuba.
Her closing lines are among the most daring and most moving, ever penned in the long, long history of letters written to popes.
Pope Francis, forgive me if I have offended you, but I have had to choose between the respectful acquiescence due to a bishop and the defense of the victims of communism. It hurts me to be told that you are a communist pope. Communism destroys the morals of the peoples, their religion, their hope.
Yesterday in Miami, four Daughters of Charity came out to protest in the streets, along with the people, some of them elderly. Sister Consuelo, from Mexico and Sister Elvira, Sister Reinelda and Sister Rafaela, all three Cubans. Among the marchers I heard people say: “There is no Pope, but there are nuns! Christ is with us!“
Help us, Father. I keep praying for you.
Here is the Google Translate version, posted by The American Conservative:
Your Holiness: Cuban Catholics, since the protests began in Cuba, are waiting for you to raise your voice. It hurts a lot that while they repress the people who took to the streets asking for freedom, you have words to congratulate Argentina’s triumph in the Copa América, talk about plastic waste in the seas, but have not made a public prayer for the dead, the detainees, the disappeared and all those who are frightened in their homes throughout our country.
In the seas of Cuba, Your Holiness, in addition to plastic, lie the remains of the many Cubans who have drowned trying to escape from the great prison that the Castros turned my country into.
Our church has been persecuted, threatened, watched, penetrated by state security agents. At the moment we have a missing seminarian, Rafael Cruz Débora. If the Cuban bishops are afraid to speak out, to stand on the side of the people, I understand them, we do not know the threats that have been made to them, but you, with the immunity that your hierarchy confers on you, can speak up and defend us.
Yesterday, in Havana, they tried to recruit a young man who had already completed compulsory military service, to train him to beat up protesters. They entered his home, threatened him in front of his parents and because the boy refused, they made him sign a letter saying that he did not go where the revolution needed him, and warned him that when all this happened, he would go to prison.
That was yesterday, today they are being dragged away, without asking anything. Parents with children of military age are terrified.
You told young people: … “Fight for your dreams, but dream big, don’t stop dreaming.” Young Cubans who were born in dictatorship, who have been indoctrinated, educated in atheistic schools, in a one-party society, who have grown up, some eating and dressing with the help of their families in exile and others in utter misery, they are dreaming of seeing their country free. You invited them to dream, and now that they are being killed for shouting their dream, you are silent.
You asked your shepherds to smell like sheep. Of the Cuban priests who have openly sided with the people, some are being beaten by the police, detained and silenced by their bishops who fear for their lives. And about the government’s harassment of the bishops, you who are the Pope should know more than I do.
How it hurts, Father, the Cuban nuns and priests with whom I have been able to speak that you look the other way. Today a Cuban nun told me that she could not conceive that you did not have a few words for Cuba at this time when the whole world is talking about the abuses of the regime. And very quietly, her voice cracking with pain, almost as if speaking to herself, she whispered: “Someday he will have to confront the Lord.”
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