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Envoy Sees Bright Future for Church in Cuba

11-02-2010

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ROME, FEB. 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- There is hope that Cuba will become continuously more open to a free practice of religion, according to the nation's ambassador to the Holy See.

Eduardo Delgado Bermúdez told ZENIT the Castro government is willing to go forward with a growing number of concrete signs of openness, just as Benedict XVI is encouraging.

The Holy Father called for this openness in a December address upon receiving Delgado Bermúdez's credentials as the new Cuban envoy.

The envoy recalled to ZENIT that religious liberty is protected in the constitution. He further affirmed: "You ask me: will the Pope's hope be realized? I can say, categorically, yes, that the government of Cuba -- and I said this in my address [to the Pope], which was not personal, it was an address that I gave in the name of the Cuban government and was approved by the Cuban government -- is willing to continue forward as His Holiness expressed it."

One of those concrete signs of openness might be a greater Church presence in the media.

On recent visits to the island, both the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Celli, urged this greater presence.

According to Delgado Bermúdez: "Access of the Catholic Church to the press has happened exactly as happened with the declaration of Christmas as a holiday, or as innumerable religious processions have been authorized within the law. Before there were very few in Cuba; now they have increased considerably.

"And at present the bishops have access to the national media, an access that the government offered them because the media, in Cuba, is state owned. I can tell you that on this there have been talks between the authorities of the local Church and the Cuban government, and facilities will continue to be given to increase this access. This is positive."

Better communication

In general, the envoy declared, Holy See-Cuban relations are increasingly positive. This year, formal relations will have existed for 75 years.

Delgado Bermúdez proposed that "today all subjects can be discussed between the Church in Cuba and the authorities in an atmosphere of respect, of positive, constructive communication, that is, at present there is no topic that could be a reason for confrontation. For me, this is the most important achievement."

Other signs of bettering relations, according to the ambassador, are the steps taken for a seminary in Havana.

"I believe that it is significant that some buildings that were in the power of the authorities for different reasons have been returned to the Church and others are in the process of being restored," he continued.

"We have many points in common with the Church," Delgado Bermúdez said. "The Church can play a positive role.

"The Church's help has been very important too when there have been natural catastrophes, cyclones; the Church has given important help, speedy and effective. I think this must be added to the best results."

http://www.zenit.org/article-28315?l=english