A meditation on the sacrilegious travesty at Father Varela’s church in New York

Bishop Cisneros (with pectoral cross) at Felix Varela farce

From our Bureau of Hellish Hypocrisy Involving Church and State with some assistance from our Bureau of Painfully Inappropriate and Loathsome Shepherding Assignments

Yesterday’s revolting event at Father Varela’s Church of the Transfiguration defies description. Its multiple layers of symbolic meaning seem so infinite, too, and so offensive, that one is forced to meditate on it rather than to analyze it.

Details provided by the Ministry of Truth in Havana — through its website Cuba Debate — add further depth to the horror of yesterday’s sacrilege, which was an assault on common decency in both the secular and sacred spheres.

King Raul’s hand-picked faux dictator Trucutú Díaz-Canel was welcomed at Father Varela’s church by none other than Monsignor Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop emeritus of Brooklyn, New York.

Those accompanying Trucutú included his wife Lis Cuesta and Foreign Minister Brunito “El Maldito” Rodriguez, as well as some bodyguards and other functionaries from Brunito’s ministry.

But Cuba Debate’s report omits one very significant detail: Monsignor Octavio Cisneros is not only Cuban, but also one of the children rescued from Castro, Inc.’s hands by Operation Pedro Pan. Why he decided to take part in this sacrilegious travesty remains a mystery.

Chances are that Bishop Cisneros was ordered to take charge of this farce by his superior, Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Whether or not the Cuban bishop reprimanded Trucutú and Brunito for their infernal hypocrisy and their violence against the Cuban people is a moot point. Those two atheistic sociopaths would never pay attention to anything any bishop has to say. Worse yet, the presence of a Cuban bishop in that church, greeting and welcoming these Cuban hypocrites made this event all the more hideous and offensive.

Bishop Cisneros serves as vice-postulator of the Cause for Canonization of the Servant of God Felix Varela and is also a founding member and president of the Felix Varela Foundation. He is also Vicar for Hispanic Concerns for the Archdiocese of New York.

Given his nationality and his involvement with Father Varela’s canonization, it’s obvious why Cardinal Dolan would pick this bishop to handle such a task, if the visitors were legitimate heads of state and Cuba was a normal country. But Cuba is anything but normal, and the visitors anything but Catholic pilgrims or legitimate rulers. In fact, the visitors have consistently persecuted all Christians, including Catholics

So, given these circumstances, it seems obvious why this bishop was absolutely the worst possible choice for such a task. A much better choice would have been Rosa Maria Payá, daughter of murdered dissident Oswaldo Payá, founder of the Varela Project, or Berta Soler of the Ladies in White, who is prevented from attending Mass every Sunday, or a former political prisoner, such as Oscar Elias Biscet.

Second-guessing Cardinal Dolan’s motives, as well as those of Bishop Cisneros is all one can do at this point, so assigning blame is not the real issue here. As Jesus said, “judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1-3) As of this afternoon, we still have no way of knowing why Bishop Cisneros took on this onerous duty. The church is an autocracy that functions a lot like the military. An order from above is an order from above. “Yes, sir” or “Yes, Your Eminence,” is the proper respond to commands.

Perhaps this order pained Bishop Cisneros immensely? Perhaps he thought he could get through the evil force field that surrounds the visitors? Perhaps he prayed for their conversion and redemption? Perhaps he pleaded for the release of political prisoners? Perhaps he accepted this task as a form of penance and self-abasement, much like flagellation? Who knows? Since we have no statement from him, we have no way of knowing what he felt and said.

So, let’s withhold judgement. Nonetheless, as often happens, a Cuban has once again played a role that betrays all Cubans. In this case there is the double whammy of betraying Father Varela himself. And the institution allowing all this betraying to happen is the Catholic Church.

Miserere nobis, Domine, Cubani sumus. Lord have mercy, we are Cubans, and, once again, the devil’s grip on our short nether hairs has proven inescapable.

5 thoughts on “A meditation on the sacrilegious travesty at Father Varela’s church in New York”

  1. By all appearances, this abominable business has all the makings of a chanchullo between relevant Catholic authorities, particularly Cardinal Dolan, and the Castro dictatorship. Dolan may or may not have sought Vatican approval, which seems moot, since there’s no reason to believe it would have been denied. I fully expect Dolan put Cisneros up to “do the honors,” which one could argue has a certain perverse logic.

    It is important to note that, as reported by the Patmos Institute, the event was kept very private–there was no prior public announcement of it anywhere, not even in the weekly bulletin of the church involved, which only said that the usual 6 PM Saturday mass would be postponed on 9/23 until 6:30 due to an unspecified “prior event” at the church. Thus, apparently even the parishioners of the church were kept out of the event.

    The photos that have been published suggest that, apart from clergy, there was nobody there except the Castro contingent and presumably the reporter for the National Catholic Register, which has yet to post a related story. This implies the event was held strictly for the Castro people in response to their request, though no doubt the Catholic Church side had its own reasons and expectations for doing so.

    I certainly do not believe Dolan and his crew gave the Castronoids what they wanted as a way to lure and trap them into being lectured about human rights and freedom of religion. I expect whatever was said by Cisneros was very diplomatic and carefully worded to avoid giving offense, even though what was called for, in my opinion, was what Christ did to the money changers in the Temple.

  2. Presumably, Castro, Inc.’s idea is to co-opt Varela in preparation for his beatification, the way it has tried to co-opt José Martí, though that’s outrageous on its face–but they don’t care, as long as their target audience buys it, and their target audience buys pretty much anything pitched to it, or at least goes along with it.

    This glorifiied photo-op in NY catering to indisputable evil amounts to scandalizing the faithful (and all Cubans), something expressly forbidden by Christ. Cisneros should NOT have been part of it; they could have found someone else. It’s practically as if using him was a deliberate provocation. The optics are HORRIBLE. Yes, the pope has done the same and worse multiple times, but at least he’s not Cuban.

    At best, this is a case of profoundly poor judgment, and I’m not talking about the Castro people. There was no way to make this wash or avoid giving serious offense, though again, we’ve seen this movie before. The Church is said to be the Bride of Christ, so surely the Roman Church should observe the ancient precept that Caesar’s wife must be not only guiltless but above suspicion–and this thing reeks to high heaven.

    Lord have mercy.

  3. I’m trying not to trash Cisneros. I suppose people can delude themselves or simply lack discernment, but what I cannot get my head around is that he MUST be very well acquainted with Varela’s life and thinking, so how could he do this? Even if Dolan told him to do it, he could have responded that it would violate his conscience to betray and dishonor Varela this way, not to mention disgrace himself as a Cuban and offend his own people. What on earth could he have expected to accomplish by, in effect, dancing with the devil?

  4. This (way) beyond deplorable business comes across as something like this:

    Archdiocese of New York (ANY): Hello, can we help you?

    Castro, Inc.: This is the Cuban government. We want you to set up a photo-op/PR event for us dressed up as a tribute to Felix Varela at his church in Chinatown. Very private, just us and a priest or two.

    ANY: Well, we may have to check with Bishop Cisneros to make sure he’s OK with this…

    Castro, Inc.: Never mind that. Go straight to Dolan. He’ll handle it. Remember, the pope has a “personal relationship” with our Big Guy.

    ANY: Well, some people could object, given Father Varela’s commitment to a free Cuba…

    Castro, Inc.: Look, Varela was Cuban, and anyone Cuban belongs to the Revolution and can be used for our purposes. Besides, there could be something in it for the Church, and you want to look progressive and all, now don’t you? Again, any questions, ask your boss in Rome.

    ANY: Uh, OK, that sounds fair enough…

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