News / Americas

Cuba's Catholic Church May Restrict Rare Forum for Open Debate

FILE - A woman walks past closed doors at the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana March 14, 2012.FILE - A woman walks past closed doors at the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana March 14, 2012.
x
FILE - A woman walks past closed doors at the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana March 14, 2012.
FILE - A woman walks past closed doors at the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana March 14, 2012.
Reuters
The resignation of two editors of an outspoken Roman Catholic Church magazine in Cuba threatens to stall what had been a thriving political dialogue inside Cuba and a rare forum to challenge the ruling Communist Party publicly.
 
The former editors of Espacio Laical magazine, Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez, used the Internet to promote debate on political issues such as the need for a multi-party system, internet expansion, reintegration with the diaspora and the strengths and weaknesses of reforms under President Raul Castro.
 
They quit last week after 10 years on the job, saying in their resignation letter it was because of pressure from inside the Church hierarchy, not the government, from people who did not want the Church to get involved in politics.
 
While small by Latin American standards, the Cuban Catholic Church is by far the largest and best organized force on the Caribbean island with a different ideology than the Communist Party.
 
Church and state

Now Church insiders and diplomats fear conservative bishops from the Cuban provinces are attempting to reverse the course of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, a moderate who is scheduled to retire soon and who had improved relations with the Cuban state.
 
Although Ortega helped open space to criticize the Cuban system, a faction within the Church was skeptical about striking a bargain with Cuban authorities given past repression.
 
“I hope this doesn't signal a historic mistake by the Church at a critical moment for Cuba,” said a European ambassador who follows Church politics and supports Ortega's policy.
 
An East European diplomat had a different take, stating any cooperation with the government was useless and only gave it credibility.
 
The magazine, which is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Havana, had proved uniquely able to bring to the discussion Cubans from various political persuasions on and off the island and sponsored forums in Havana that drew a mixed political audience, from government supporters to opponents.
 
It had a run of just 4,500 issues but a larger and more active presence online. Most intellectuals, artists and academics have some access to the Internet while the general population does not.
 
“It's always hard to say, but no one is indispensable,” the magazine's recently appointed director, Gustavo Andujar, said in a brief statement about the editors’ resignations. “Espacio Laical will continue with a new team.”

Concessions

Espacio Laical and its editors had become more outspoken after the cardinal brokered the 2010 release of most political prisoners and forged a tactical alliance with Castro, supporting his reforms in exchange for more visibility in state media and other minor concessions.
 
Church insiders said the former editors and recently appointed director were often at odds due to the latter's efforts to tone down the magazine.
 
The director, former editors and the Havana archdiocese had no further comment.
 
Veiga and Gonzalez said their work had provoked the ire of those “who think that the Church should not get involved in politics and those who believe that it should not provide space to all actors in Cuban civil society.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Relatives Doubt 42 Men Died in Mexico Ranch Shootout

The lopsided death toll and photographs from the scene in which bodies appeared to have been moved have raised questions
More

Pope Beatifies Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop

Hundreds of thousands of worshippers converge on Salvadoran capital to witness papal declaration for late Oscar Romero - now one step from Roman Catholic sainthood
More

Scores Killed in Western Mexico Gunfight

Officials say almost every person killed in Michoacan state shootout was a suspected gang member
More

Latest US-Cuban Talks Ends in Washington

Both sides cite progress on restoring diplomatic ties, but no final agreement reached
More

Tutu Lends Support to Age Campaign

Help Age International has launched Action 2015 campaign
More

Colombia Kills 18 FARC Rebels

The bombing raid took place in the Cauca region of western Colombia
More