- The Vatican's Sostituto: Pope, previously unknown to many, won over Cubans’ hearts (Catholic World News 4/2/12). “In fact, at the beginning the people seemed a little self-conscious, almost constrained,” he added. “But after having seen the figure of the Pope up close, nothing could stop them.”
- Pope Benedict XVI Visit To Cuba Prompts Criticism From Cuban-American Hardliners , by Carlos Harrison. (Huffington Post 3/30/12):
Sylvia Iriondo, the president of Mothers Against Repression (M.A.R. Por Cuba), said she took issue with the pope for finding time to meet with Fidel Castro, but not with dissidents.
"His agenda is flexible enough to accommodate a tyrant," she said, "but not enough to receive the Ladies (in White) for even one minute."
But others, like Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who led a group of more than 300 pilgrims to Cuba this week to take part in the papal trip, defended the pope's visit and said that it will open more space for the Catholic Church on the island.
“It will bear fruit,” he said during a press conference Thursday afternoon at Miami International Airport, minutes after returning from Havana. “What we are seeing is a springtime of faith, a reawakening of faith, a faith that will give the Cuban people a path to follow so that they will have a future of hope.”
- Papal pilgrimage marks Cuban woman's first return in 50 years (Catholic News Agency, 4/1/12):
For Alina Buda, a recent pilgrimage to Cuba was not only a chance to see the Pope but an opportunity to reconnect with the country of her birth.
“It’s really been an incredible experience,” Buda told CNA on March 29. “Spiritually, it’s been amazing.”
- "A God who responds to our reason" - Fr. James V. Schall on Benedict on Mexico. (Catholic World Report 3/25/12). "Benedict is not a utopian, but he does see how things can be better, but only on the grounds of reason and the truths of faith addressed to it, be it in Mexico, Cuba, or anywhere else."
- Benedict's gentle debunk of clericalism, by John Allen Jr. (National Catholic Reporter 3/30/12):
Pope Benedict XVI's diplomatic high-wire act in Havana, pressing the case for religious freedom but avoiding direct clash with the Castro regime, was the main news flash out of his March 23-28 trip to Mexico and Cuba. Yet there was another leitmotif to the outing, more subtle but arguably more decisive for the church across Latin America.
Not to put too fine a point on it, the pope offered a gentle, yet unmistakable, debunking of clericalism. His focus seemed to be the gradual reshaping of ecclesial culture, not sexy short-term headlines, which puts it squarely into Benedict's wheelhouse.
- The Pope in Cuba: too many concessions to the Castro regime?, by Phil Lawler (Catholic Culture 3/28/12):
There’s a chicken-or-the-egg sort of conundrum here. Which comes first: the concessions to the regime or the challenge to the regime? The willingness to negotiate with an unfriendly government or the determination to press that government for change? If there are no negotiations, there can be no pressure for change. If there are no concessions, there can be no challenge. Political negotiations always take place on a two-way street.
If the Vatican and the Cuban hierarchy had not been willing to make a few deals, the Pope could not have visited Cuba. If he had not visited Cuba, he could not have rallied the Catholic opposition and stirred the cries for liberty. For all we know, the Pope’s visit may prove to be the first step in a series of events that triggers the downfall of Cuban Communism. Who can ever forget how a visit to Poland by Blessed John Paul II led eventually to the collapse of the entire Soviet empire?
- Has the Church Gone Soft on Communism?, by Wiliam Doino Jr. (First Things 3/27/12):
When critics say the Church has sold out the anti-Communist resistance for limited religious freedoms, they overlook an obvious fact: religious celebrations like the one the pope just led, which speak to the deepest parts of the human soul, are themselves massive acts of resistance against a tyrannical Communist state, and should inspire freedom-fighters everywhere.
We can debate the prudential acts of Catholic leaders toward the Castro brothers, but let us not doubt where the fundamental sympathies of the Catholic Church—and especially Pope Benedict—lie.
Monday, April 2, 2012
- What does a pope do? Fidel Castro asks Pope Benedict, by Philip Puella. (Reuters' "FaithWorld" 3/29/12):
Pope Benedict and Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, both octogenarians, joked about their age in a brief meeting on Wednesday and then Castro popped the question: so what do you do?
The two world figures chatted for about 30 minutes at the Vatican embassy in Havana near the end of the pope’s three-day visit to Cuba, where he called for greater freedom and a bigger role for the Catholic Church in the communist-led nation.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Benedict, 84, and Castro, 85, had an “exchange of ideas” in a “very cordial” atmosphere.
- When Fidel "interviewed" Benedict XVI (La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 3/28/12):
On the one hand was the “Maximum Leader” of the Cuban Revolution who remained in power for almost 50 years, from 1959 to 2008, before illness led him to hand over power definitively to his brother. On the other was the former Theology Professor who, in 1959, had just begun a teaching career in Bonn and who seven years later was to become the leader of the universal Church. Reaching the end of his life, the revolutionary atheist showed a keen interest in religious questions, “interrogating” Peter’s successor. He followed Benedict XVI’s apostolic visit on the television and noticed some variations in the liturgy since his younger days. So the Pope explained how mass had changed.
Fidel then showed enthusiasm at the prospect of Wojtyla and Mother Teresa’s (“benefactress of Cuba whom I worship”) beatification. Fidel asked the Pope for some books on faith and received three papal commemorative medals and the promise of future advice on reading material.
- Fidel. "Never excommunicated" Fidel Castro excommunicated? “The word excommunication does not feature in pope John XXIII’s dictionary”. The former secretary of Pope John XXIII, Mgr. Loris Capovilla said. (La Stampa's "The Vatican Insider" 3/29/12).