Friday, January 22, 2010

Raising your little voice to God

January 21 marked twelve years since the Holy Father John Paul II visited Cuba, in one of the most historic and expected visit. Twelve years had gone, twelve years with ups and downs in a road undermined and with a country more devastated and impoverished.Raising your little voice to God

When times are hard and hopes fly away, people turn their voice to God. Faith is the last trench in any devastated life, in any haunted place. Almost four generations of Cuban grew up in a country isolated of faith. From the very beginning, the newborn revolution opened with religious jitters across the nation. The church was turning up the volume at the rhythm Castro was opening power to Communism. The war against faith was the first consequence, and the catholic bishops the first casualties.

Castro couldn’t admit a second ideological power in Cuba and he knew the bishops had a huge influence amongst Cubans. In the history of the relationships between Religion and Castro in Cuba, the latest had tried hard to rewrite the long history of differences and animosity between the two, especially with an opportunistic intervention of old catholic dissidents priests like Frei Betto. But the truth remains unabashed.

The turbulent 60’s ended with the expulsion of 131 priests in September 17, 1971. That day, and simultaneously nationwide, groups of men dressed in Castro’s militia arrested priest and nuns. From the total, 33 priests were Cubans, and the rest were mostly Spanish and Canadians. Those men of God were arrested without their personal identity, without any piece of clothing and without any previous advice, and embarked in a ship anchored in Havana harbour named Covadonga. They were expelled from the country they served without any reward unless their faith in God.

The reasons behind were obvious: Cuba’s churches had became the only place Cubans could express freely their opinions against the regime. Castro couldn’t allow any second power, so the faith in God had to be crushed. After all, and accomplishing his new believes in Marxism, Religion didn’t have any place in the new man of the new era. Christ had to be defeated.

The expulsion of the catholic priest was the last chapter started with the vanishing of Christmas in 1970, but it was in the long term plan busted of the ideological agenda in the new power installed in Cuba. It is very important to remark that that process began before even the church began opening people’s eyes against the new era under Communism: dismantling all form of religion in the school system, the prohibition to access to any local and national media to the church, and in consequence the isolation of the church from any institution and social organization. Faith became a dissident in Cuba.

During more than 30 years, Cuba buried his faith in their family premises. Nobody allowed himself to confess publicly his faith in God, even when deep in their homes and souls Cubans kept their sacred images well-preserved. Our country had been a nation of faith and hope, our spirituality had been preserved over the year despite slogans, prohibition, prosecution and lies, and with time the old Cuba came alive again. God never left Cubans alone: it was its government who tried to expel God from Cuba.

In a process extraordinarily described by the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, in the welcoming remarks to the Holy Father in January 24, 1998:

“I present also a growing number of Cubans who had confused the fatherland with the party, the nation with the historical process we have experienced in recent years, and culture with ideology.”

In 1986, Castro gave to Frei Betto a long interview and tried to rewrite Cuba’s history again as Big Brother did. In the long and best seller book, Castro sold his now well-known self-eulogy about religion, and tried to justify, with pretty phrases and liquid dogmas, the crusade against the Catholic Church. The whole truth doesn’t resist any justification possible, what was in stake was the beginning of the crisis in Eastern Europe, and the collapse of the Socialism as a system worldwide. Castro was shoring up a crumbling building in Cuba in prevision with the collapse of the Communism. It wasn’t premonition: the signs were there forever, but now history was passing its check.

The factors and components that pulled down Eastern Europe are in Cuba for a long time. The revolution who ask for spirituality, freedom and faith in the new men of the new millennium finished fencing all the civil rights. There is no spirituality when you lack of freedom to express your honest opinion about anything.

With the catholic bishops Cuba had expelled artists, journalists, intellectuals, men and women of faith, people of all races, believes and sexual orientation. The country became a fenced land with an ideology refused by our forefathers from the beginnings of our independence. Castro freed all the forces against any dissent with a steady campaign of fears about the inevitable crushing of the proletariat’s revolution in the hands of its enemies. It is not out of context to remember what our Apostle Jose Marti said about Marx:

“To set men against men is an appalling task. The forced bestialization of some men for the profit of others stirs our indignation. But that indignation must be vented in such a way the beats ceases to be, without escaping its bonds and causing fear.”

That fear escaped its bonds in 1959 from the very moment Castro unfold his war against any form of dissidence and opposition. Today, when that regime is fading with his figure and name, thousands of Cubans are returning his faith in God, raising their little voices to claim the spirituality Castro’s Revolution exiled from their homes and showing everyone that faith is always close to our hearts and is home of the best feelings in reconciliation.

The end of one era is coming; the beginning of a new is ahead.

2 comments:

Walter Lippmann said...

Relations between the Cuban government and the Roman Catholic Church are far more positive today in the aftermath of Pope John Paul's 1998 visit to the island.

Cardinal Jaime Ortega read the Christmas homily over Cuban state television this past December 24, and many similar examples could be cited.

Here's what the Catholic News Agency had to say year before last when the Vatican's foreign Minister, Narciso Bertone, visited the island:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/cardinal_bertone_and_raul_castro_conclude_meeting_with_hopes_for_better_ties/

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