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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Attack on Colombian Police Kills 7

Defense ministry vows to 'maintain and intensify' operations against armed groups, drug traffickers following the attack
More

Chronically Hungry Numbers Decline

Three U.N. agencies have released the State of Food Security in the World report
More

UN: Enforced Disappearances Continue Unabated Globally

UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances says more than 43,000 cases from 88 countries still remain to be clarified
More

Hurricane Odile Weakens, Still a Threat to Mexico

Odile could drench Baja California with as much as 46 centimeters of rain by Friday
More

Powerful Hurricane Threatens Mexico's Baja California

US forecasters have downgraded Odile to strong Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour
More

Hard-hitting Films Tackle Homelessness at Toronto Festival

'Time Out of Mind,' 'Shelter,' and 'Heaven Knows What' all focus on characters struggling with homelessness, addiction on the streets of New York
More