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.
“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 nation's 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
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 all.”
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 Church’s 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 year's 400th anniversary of the image's finding.
The bishops noted that God’s 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 their circle.”
“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 Church’s 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 the nation.”
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 educate youth.
They called on Christian youth to work toward a hope-filled future by
promoting the Gospel in Cuban society, saying their “enthusiastic
response…is necessary today to carry out the mandate from Christ to
renew the evangelization of our people without ceasing.”