09/18/13 - Albany Tribune - Cuban Bishops Call For Political Reform, Open US Policy
By CNA -- (September 18, 2013)
In a new pastoral letter, the Cuban bishops said that in the hope for a
better future, their government should begin political reform and the
U.S. should adopt an inclusive policy towards their country.
Cuba is called to be a pluralistic society
Cuba is the nation of all
Cubans, with their differences and aspirations, although it has not always
been this way, the bishops wrote in Hope Does Not Disappoint, a
pastoral letter delivered to the government and read in parishes Sept. 15.
There should be a right to diversity with regards to thought, to
creativity, to the search for truth. Out of diversity comes the need for
The letter praises recent economic reforms undertaken by Raul Castro, the
nations president. Castro succeeded his brother Fidel, a leader of the
1959 communist revolution, as president in 2008, and has allowed small
private businesses, greater freedom for foreign travel and the sale of
homes and cars, and decentralized state businesses.
Despite these economic reforms, Castro has maintained that the Communist
Party will remain the only one allowed in the political sphere.
In response, the bishops said we believe it is indispensable to update
national legislation in the political order.
For some time there have been emerging opportunities for debate and
discussion at different levels and environments, sometimes created by
citizens themselves: intellectuals, youth and others who, from the
grassroots, have expressed in different ways their vision of the changes
necessary in Cuba with serious and diverse opinions and proposals.
They pointed out that the country is no longer the same as it was decades
ago, and that in the emerging reforms, a clear, although still
incomplete, reflection of the demands long yearned-for by the Cuban
people can be seen.
The bishops said they hoped reforms would continue to expand, for the good
of the people and for new generations of Cubans, many of whom have yet to
experience the conditions necessary for building a life for themselves.
Citing the growth of globalization and interdependence, the bishops noted
the need for reformation of international relations.
It is necessary to consider the relations of Cuba with the U.S., which
during long decades, in different, constant and steady ways, has affected
the life of our people they stated.
Since the 1959 revolution, the U.S. has maintained a crippling economic
embargo on Cuba, which has been slightly eased by the Obama
The bishops quoted Blessed John Paul II, who said during a 1998 visit to
the country that the isolation led to indiscriminate impacts on the
population, increasing the difficulties of the weakest in basic aspects
such as food, health, and education, and calling for the end of the
unjust and ethically unacceptable measures imposed from abroad.
The bishops also noted the large number of Cuban Americans in the U.S.,
pointing out that geographical proximity and family ties between the two
nations are unavoidable realities that should be taken into account to
favor an inclusive policy
which can alleviate the tensions and the
suffering experienced by numerous persons and families, as well as a just
commercial exchange oriented to the benefit of all.
In this respect, we exhort you, too, to be encouraged to new initiatives
of dialogue, enabling that the wish of Blessed John Paul II that the world
open up to Cuba and Cuba to the world become a reality for the benefit of
In addition, the bishops recalled the importance of the visits of both
John Paul II and Benedict XVI, which marked our recent history with the
sign of hope.
Both Roman Pontiffs bore witness not only to the human and social
dimension, but also the religious dimension, of the Churchs mission of
evangelization. Both referred to the spiritual and social reality Cubans
face today and in the future, they said.
They also underscored the devotion to Our Lady of Charity, the patroness
of all Cubans regardless of race, class or opinion, and remembered last
years 400th anniversary of the images finding.
The bishops noted that Gods plan is that all his children enjoy the goods
of creation through responsible freedom.
They also said that government should be concerned with the common good,
and denounced selfishness seen in groups of power who do not always
represent everyone and do not show interest for those who are not part of
The participative state must definitively replace the paternalist state,
they stressed, encouraging Cubans not to fear the development of a strong
and responsible social autonomy.
In their letter, the bishops also reiterated their call to dialogue as
the only road to attaining and sustaining the social transformations that
are taking place in Cuba, as dialogue is always enriching because it
provides the chance to contribute new ideas and solutions to the problems
or conflicts that we are facing.
In the recent past, the Churchs work of mediation, which led to the
release of dozens of prisoners, is a sign that this road is possible in
our country, and this should extend as well to other sectors and groups in
They emphasized the importance of the family as the school of humanity
and the source of values. However, they warned that family life has
greatly deteriorated, with grave consequences that have repercussions in
the lives of people and in society.
To promote the desire to be good and the practice of virtue, the bishops
proposed that the Church work together with families, schools and media to
They called on Christian youth to work toward a hope-filled future by
promoting the Gospel in Cuban society, saying their enthusiastic
is necessary today to carry out the mandate from Christ to renew
the evangelization of our people without ceasing.
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