The recent wide-ranging TV interview of the pope by two Mexican female journalists dropped a “bombshell.” He said he has a “human relationship” with totalitarian tyrant Raúl Castro–a poor turn of phrase, since he could hardly have any other kind with a human being (just as Eva Braun had a “human relationship” with der Führer). Presumably, he was not being stupidly literal but meant a warm or amicable relationship, which I don’t doubt but happens to be highly objectionable, to put it very diplomatically. Unfortunately, the glaring impropriety of such a statement from the titular Vicar of Christ acted like a distracting shiny object, drawing attention away from other revealing things he said which were no less disturbing. Besides, the “bombshell” was old news — it’s been graphically evident for quite a while that he’s much more “natural” and comfortable interacting with Cuba’s dictator than with people like Donald Trump or even Mauricio Macri, the (relatively) right-wing former president of Argentina.
The issue is not what this pope said about Castro II, which we already knew, but why he chose to say it explicitly. He had to know it would not go unnoticed, and he certainly did not have to say it, unless it was like stating an article of faith. When asked about Ukraine, he didn’t say he had a human relationship with villain du jour Putin. In fact, he pointedly avoided mentioning his name, and he was strongly critical of the situation there (describing Ukrainians as victims), but he didn’t criticize the situation in Cuba at all (even though the interview took place on the first anniversary of the 11J protests, and one interviewer pointed that out and asked him to send a message to Cubans).
He spoke fondly of his covert collaboration with Obama’s “normalization” of relations with Cuba, which he called a good step forward, and he alluded to currently ongoing exploratory talks between the US and Havana to bring the two closer together. This suggests he is privy to or involved in those talks, as he was under Obama, which would be perfectly in character. Apparently, the utter failure of Obama’s unilateral “thaw” made little or no impression on him.
As bad as the prospect of such unsolicited and unauthorized meddling in Cuban affairs sounds, especially in light of his “human relationship,” he made an even more disturbing and revealing statement. He said, without elaborating, that “Cuba is a symbol; Cuba has a great history.” Like that, together, as if the first part of the statement was based on or related to the second. But a symbol of what? And to whom? And why would a non-Cuban think that highly of Cuba’s history? Even I don’t, deeply ashamed as I am of its last 63 years and their consequences.
I’m afraid the answers are obvious when one considers the source, not because he’s the pope but because he’s a Latin American leftist, and we know only too well how that species sees Cuba, or rather fantasizes it. I’m afraid he was referring to Cuba as a symbol of “progressive” revolution against capitalist “imperialism,” as an incarnation of the Marxist ideal, and thus the “great history” bit refers to its history since 1959. As I have said before, Bergoglio is relatively open and forthcoming with his views, like a “true believer,” but the problem is what he actually believes in.
As it happens, he was asked in this interview about those who accuse him of being communist (that was the term used, which may have been deliberately heavy-handed to make it easier to dismiss). He responded that such accusations came from “ideologized” and confused or ignorant sources, and that he considered them stuck in the past or outdated. Evidently, he does not think he is ideologized, and the way he spoke, one would think communism (or its essence, regardless of how it’s labeled) had disappeared for good and was no longer a relevant concern.
It seems quite significant that, after an interviewer noted it was the one-year anniversary of the 11J demonstrations throughout the island and asked the pope for a reaction to that, apparently all he said is what is in the linked video. In other words, he evaded the subject completely and went off on a tangent about his “human relationships” with Cubans, what Obama did, what the Biden people are doing, and of course Cuba’s “symbolic” status. Not a word he said could possibly offend any member of Cuba’s dictatorship, starting with the “human” Raúl Castro.
So, where does all this leave us with this “Holy Father”? Same place as before, albeit increasingly clearer. All he has said and done regarding Cuba fits a consistent and established pattern, and again, he’s fairly frank about it. He’s certainly not concerned about offending “those people” who want an end to the “revolutionary” nightmare and a free and truly normal Cuba, or even about scandalizing the faithful Catholics among them, which he has done repeatedly and flagrantly. Surely those Cubans are not among those he says he loves, or he would not have hurt them as he has multiple times. I suppose we should be grateful for his honesty, but that is cold comfort, if any. Based on what he said in this interview, as I interpret it, I’m afraid this pope is noxious for Cuba, which is already very sick.
Lord have mercy.