WIKILEAKS: PENSAMENTOS SOBRE OS CATOLICOS

janeiro 27, 2011 § Deixe um comentário

WIKILEAKS, 15-10-2008

PACIÊNCIA É UMA VIRTUDE: PENSAMENTOS SOBRE OS CATÓLICOS

Viewing cable 08HAVANA811, PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: THOUGHTS ON THE CATHOLIC

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08HAVANA811 2008-10-15 21:09 2011-01-22 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL US Interests Section
Havana
VZCZCXRO6592
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHUB #0811/01 2892125
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 152125Z OCT 08
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3799
INFO RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0152
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000811

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2018
TAGS: PHUM EAID PGOV KDEM CU
SUBJECT: PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: THOUGHTS ON THE CATHOLIC
CHURCH IN CUBA

Classified By: COM JONATHAN FARRAR FOR REA…

¶1. (C) The Catholic Church seeks to work under the GOC’s radar to rebuild its
infrastructure and ecclesiastical ranks. From Cardinal Ortega all the way down
to provincial nuns, the Church mostly avoids challenging the GOC. Fear of
drawing the ire of the GOC limits church outreach programs to narrow niches,
such as caring for mentally challenged children and adults. Congregations for
the most part remain small, elderly, and female. Youth programs are stunted,
leading one to wonder who will fill the newly-renovated churches to listen to
the priests who graduate from the huge seminary now under construction.

¶2. (C) Over the past two months, COM has had the opportunity to engage with
elements of the Catholic Church on a variety of levels, including with Cardinal
Ortega, the auxiliary bishop of Havana, the bishop of Santiago, missionary nuns
in Matanzas province, and priests from nine Havana parishes and one in Santiago.
The impression one takes away is of a church extremely unlikely to challenge the
GOC beyond even minimal ways. On issues large and small, Catholic Church
strategy is to capitulate to GOC positions, preemptively if possible. Cardinal
Ortega’s priority is to increase the ranks of priests and religious, renovate
church buildings, and complete the new seminary. In this he has succeeded. The
numbers of priests has risen over the past ten years from 140 up to 240, and
religious have doubled from 300 to 600. Half of the priests and two-thirds of
the religious are foreigners. Churches recently renovated, or undergoing
renovation with assistance from overseas, are evident throughout Havana.

¶3. (SBU) You Always Have to Give Way: As a nun with 26 years experience in
Cuba explained to us, one always gives way to the GOC. Cardinal Ortega told the
COM much the same during their two hour meeting. These dynamics appear to hold
on both the national and local levels. Whether Church real estate was taken by
the GOC before 1959 or afterwards, the Church is not seeking to recover it.
When the seminarian ranks began to outgrow the capacity of their location in
Havana Vieja, the church maneuvered (successfully) during Pope John Paul II’s
visit to gain permission to build a new seminary rather than recover its former
building. Churches converted into museums and concert halls will remain that
way. Rather than expressing rancor toward the GOC, members of the Catholic
Church hierarchy expressed gratitude that the GOC does not block funding from
foreign foundations and other sources needed to build and restore Church
buildings.

¶4. (SBU) On the local level, the Catholic Church pays great deference to GOC
strictures. Earlier this year, three missionary nuns in Matanzas sought to add
a guest room to their house for their Mother Superior to use on visits. After
they acquired the building materials, local authorities refused permission to
build. The materials remain stacked in the house’s interior courtyard.
Population shifts within Havana province have increased the need for new
churches in areas such as Alamar, on the outskirts of USINT,s travel limits.
Absent GOC approval for new construction, the Catholic Church makes do with
makeshift services in individual houses.

¶5. (C) And Then Came the Hurricanes: The interaction between the Catholic
Church, including its relief arm, Caritas, and the GOC over hurricane relief
issues is an interesting illustration of this deference. Caritas initially
accepted USD 80,000 in hurricane relief funding from OFDA. Subsequently,
Caritas engaged in delicate negotiations with the GOC on the terms under which
it may import and distribute relief supplies. The GOC for the first time agreed
for Caritas to import relief supplies and distribute them through Caritas’s own
distribution system. Most other churches distribute relief through the GOC’s
system, using GOC transport, for which the GOC takes credit. When the GOC turned
up the heat in recent weeks on all churches not to accept USG relief funds,
Caritas received instructions from the Church hierarchy here to cancel its
agreement with USINT for the OFDA funds. Caritas promptly did so. Elsewhere on
relief efforts, at the parish level COM has seen several parishes where the
parish priest and laypersons went beyond the church hierarchy’s structure for
hurricane relief and began direct parish-to-parish relief efforts. Such direct
engagement bears watching and encouragement.

¶6. (SBU) The Lost Generation: Youth programs mostly are anemic, and church
attendance by young people reflects this. The Bishop of Santiago, Juan
Hernandez, highlighted the difficulty of attracting children and adolescents
whose parents are not churchgoers. Both Havana and Santiago dioceses offer
catechism classes for minors, but attendance
HAVANA 00000811 002 OF 002
mostly appears sparse. A nun in Matanzas looked back fondly on her time in
Camaguey, where she recalled a youth group of 75 or so. She found Matanzas to
be much more challenging. Both the bishops and Cardinal Ortega noted church
youth programs could not be seen to compete with the GOC’s own programs.
XXXXXXXXXXXX runs a lunch program for his mostly poor parish in Santiago, but
disperses the meals among parish houses so as to attract less attention than
would a large lunch at the church itself.

¶7. (C) Migration is Killing Us: Almost all of COM’s Catholic Church
interlocutors said migration was taking away many of their most educated and
committed laypersons. Cardinal Ortega went further, noting that internal
migration of non-Catholic Afro-Cubans into Havana had upset the “natural
balance” in some of the poorer parishes in Havana. Asked about Church outreach
programs for these migrants, the Cardinal did not cite any and instead gave the
impression he considered such programs would be wasted efforts.

¶8. (SBU) Quiet Diplomacy: When asked about political prisoners, Cardinal
Ortega said the Catholic Church prefers to intercede with GOC authorities behind
the scenes. He views the Church as one of the few institutions able to
intercede, albeit quietly, with the GOC on such issues. It is difficult to
judge how often, or how effective, is such intercession. Both Bishop Hernandez
and Havana Auxiliary Bishop Garcia Ibanez said access by priests to political
prisoners is more frequent than it is to the larger population of those jailed
for common crimes.

¶9. (C) Comment: The Catholic Church is by far the largest island-wide
institution with even minimal autonomy from the GOC (the Methodists enjoy some
autonomy but their reach is much less extensive). From what COM has observed
thus far, however, decades of difficult Church-State relations have left their
scars on the Catholic Church. Cardinal Ortega is committed to a slow rebuilding
of the Catholic Church’s capacity. The Catholic Church has neither the strength
nor the inclination to challenge the GOC beyond the occasional criticism when
GOC policies conflict with Vatican doctrine on issues such as gay rights. Nor
do Catholic Church programs overall provide much material support to complement
or substitute for GOC programs. The GOC means to keep it that way, and the
Church thus far has gone along. We will be watching to see whether experiences
in providing hurricane relief over the coming months change that dynamic.
End Comment.
FARRAR

[i]

http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2008/10/08HAVANA811.html

[O governo cubano tem a igreja católica na mão. A estratégia do Vaticano naquela
ilha é a colocar o rabo entre as pernas, ficar calada, e assim ir conseguindo se
estabelecer aos poucos.]

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