These Are Things Which the Church Should Discuss / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

The Cuban Catholic Church’s press media have tried in recent days various efforts to clean up a bit the image of one who has already come to be known as The Cardinal of Ignominy or The Cardinal of Indignity.

It isn’t that I want to take up against the purple and much less against the Cuban clergy and the body of the Church founded by Peter. But the fact that the Church and its media want to excuse Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega Alamino in front of the world is something embarrassing and we should denounce it in front of as many media as are at the service of what we call a press without a gag and without ties.

For those of us who in one way or another have been tied to the Cuban Church and who feel ourselves to be faithful believers in her doctrine, it is difficult to imagine in the midst of the 21st century the image of a church complicit with those who stripped her of her belongings and made her feel sterile until the beginning of the 1980’s when they allowed her to make the journey of the Pilgrim Cross.

The words of no press media of the Church can, nor will ever be able, to erase the message of the Cardinal when he visited in the United States: a speech paraphrased from some leader of a fruitless revolution. A presentation in which the words that were on his lips were charged with hate and lies against thirteen Cubans who, days before the visit of His Holiness (Pope Benedict XVI) to Cuba, occupied the Church of La Caridad (Virgin of Charity) in Central Havana. I repeat again, and would not tire of testifying, that the speech given was taken from the desk of the ideological head of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

The press media at the service of the Church, instead of being occupied with so much collaboration and servitude to a man who hides even his own background as does Jaime Lucas Ortega Alamino, should give explanations as to why, in the last few years, the entry of foreign priests and nuns has been limited on behalf of the Cuban authorities, should give an accounting of how many temples in Cuba are in bad physical shape, and what is the exact number of new religious buildings constructed after the year 1959.

These are things of which we can talk, and not about an ill-achieved civil society set up by religious leaders full of rumors, and who fill their stomachs at tables as if they were those of presidents, forgetting the reality and the famine of thousands of Cuban homes.

If the Cuban Church wishes to defend itself from possible conspiracies, that could only exist in the minds of persons incapable of assuming the responsibility of their actions and words, it is best that it buy itself a dog that barks, bites, and scares away others.

Cardinal, I am one of those people who doesn’t hide my expression of what I feel, I love my Virgin of Charity, I love the Faith, but it would be impossible for me to love you as a person and much less to follow your teachings. On various occasions I have written about the Cuban Church and, in many of these texts, I have not doubted in saying what to me are truths that many do not know.

The moment in which we are living is a moment of radical changes; now let us not speak of dialogue, let us speak of changing all of that which must be changed. Perhaps now the Church would like to speak of dialogue, after sitting at the table of dictators and having received some crumbs. We as a people and a nation do not want any dialogue with the Church, and much less with the authorities in power. We want that each and every one carry on their shoulders what, during five decades, they have caused to each Cuban; we want that each one be seated in the bench of the accused, whomever they may be and   whatever rank they may have.

Civil Society in Cuba is all of us and not just a few. Civil Society is that which walks and rises today in the resurgence of a new nation that approaches to contemplate a new dawn already near.

The Cuban Church would be different if it gave way to new voices charged with juvenile energy, or people who are willing to revolutionize a church subject to the bribes of a corrupt and stagnant government. Let us recall that the abuse of children on behalf of clergy and the religious jumps to the forefront in any commentary and shakes the foundation of the Church the whole world over and Cuba is not the rule of the exception.

Has anyone asked themselves: Why haven’t similar cases been published in Cuba? Perchance the Cuban clergy doesn’t have the same weaknesses as those of other priests and religious persons? There is much to continue talking about and many topics that tarnish the role of the Church and its leaders and implicate it in a dark plot with a government that is a detractor of Christian faith. One should go on to ask: Might this not be one of the reasons for which the Cuban Church is subject to comply with what the Cuban government wants? There are many more questions to ask and, in reference to this last, I urge others to write and uncover these hidden truths.

As far as a possible conspiracy to destroy the Cardinal, I am convinced that it doesn’t exist, what I can assure you is that very soon we will erase that smile from the face of the Porcelain Doll: the name by which the Cuban Cardinal is known in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community who also form part of the body of the Cuban Church.

It is impossible for the press media of the Church to speak about these things so openly, but whosoever of us has the power of the word, let us do so from our podiums each time that it is possible.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

May 31 2012