Cuban Priests Urge Rise Against Communism
Written by LoneRhody on 01/26/2021
Cuban Priests Urge Rise Against Communism
A coalition of 15 Catholic priests working in Cuba defied the Communist Party and decades of Vatican distance from Cuban politics to publish a letter this weekend urging the Cuban people to “co-involve” themselves in their own liberation from communism and work to “break the chains” of the Castro regime.
The letter, published in English by the U.S.-based human rights organization Global Liberty Alliance, states plainly, “Cuba needs political changes.”
“We, as believers, consider that it is time, as a people, to return to God,” the priests write.
The letter was published to coincide with the 23rd anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cuba, who left an extended legacy of confronting human rights atrocities under communism. The priests represent congregations nationwide, in all six traditional provinces of Cuba, and the list of signers of the letter include clergymen who prominently denounced communism in public throughout the last year, including Havana Father Jorge Luis Pérez Soto and Father Alberto Reyes Pías of eastern Camagüey.
Catholics, and other Christians on the island, have faced over half a century of intense persecution under the Castro regime, including prime positions on firing squad lists for decades, imprisonment in labor camps, politically motivated arrests, and censorship of their faith. The Communist Party of Cuba is an explicitly atheist institution that inhibits all religious worship while promoting late dictator Fidel Castro’s ties to nominally Catholic, but functionally Marxist liberation theologists.
The extreme persecution made it difficult for formal Catholicism to survive on the island and forced many priests to continue their worship delicately, without disturbing the government or triggering any significant crackdown on believers. Pope Francis, in particular, has attempted to increase the proximity between the Castro regime and the Vatican through a 2015 visit to the island and his alleged involvement in brokering the Obama-era deal that resulted in significant American concessions to dictator Raúl Castro.
During his 2015 visit, Castro agents brutally assaulted and arrested a Cuban pro-democracy dissident, Zaqueo Báez of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), for shouting “freedom” near Pope Francis’ vehicle. Despite video evidence of the pope’s proximity to the incident, he denied having any information on political arrests on the island.
“I told the prime minister if the pope continues to talk as he does, sooner or later I will start praying again and return to the Catholic Church, and I am not kidding,” Raúl Castro said of Pope Francis in 2015.
The letter published this weekend represents a significant change in tone for the Church.
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