Advances in Vatican dialogue with Castro's Cuba
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
by Armando Valladares
As the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop
Dominique François Joseph Mamberti has just made an extensive five-day
official visit to communist Cuba on June 16-20.
Already on the first day of his stay, the prelate held a joint news
conference with the Cuban Foreign Minister in which he welcomed the
"ongoing dialogue" with the regime and expressed his hope that dialogue
"will be strengthened" by his visit. He optimistically concluded that
positive fruits "can already be seen." However, in his remarks,
Archbishop Mamberti refused to include among those "fruits" of the
dialogue with the communist regime, meetings with Cuban dissidents and
visits to political prisoners. For lack of a better argument, he claimed
he was merely carrying out an "official visit."
In short, the Vatican diplomat was all smiles toward the communist
regime while frowning on the opposition and, ultimately, on the enslaved
Among the "fruits," the high-ranking prelate appeared to include
"mediation" with the regime led by the Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal
Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, who has a well-known track record as a
collaborator of the regime. In fact, the only "fruits" the cardinal
seems to have garnered do not go beyond the mere transfer of a dozen
sick political prisoners. These were being tortured in prisons far from
their homes but are now being tortured near their homes. He also
obtained parole (which is not the same as unconditional release) for
Ariel Sigler, a regime opponent who was a famous athlete and is now
confined to a wheelchair because of privations and torture. Actually, by
releasing him, the regime avoids the risk of having such a well-known
political prisoner die in jail and become a martyr.
With his trip, statements and silence, Archbishop Dominique François
Joseph Mamberti continued the mysterious, enigmatic and baffling
collaborationist ritual of high-ranking Vatican officials who have
traveled to the island prison over the last decades. These range from
the infamous Nuncio, Archbishop Cesare Zacchi, who praised the alleged
"Christian virtues" of dictator Fidel Castro, to the steps of his
predecessor as Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Agostino
Casaroli, who in 1974 said that Cuban Catholics were "happy," all the
way to the present Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a
strong proponent of "dialogue" with the regime. In this regard, I have
often found myself in the painful need of writing articles which are
always well-documented yet never contested.
In fact, we are now witnessing more than "mediation." This is literally
a "rescue" of the Cuban regime on both foreign and domestic levels,
driven by the island's bishops and by Vatican diplomacy. On the foreign
level, the European Union is allowing itself to be impressed and stunned
by this ecclesiastical "rescue" operation and has thus postponed until
September a possible hardening of its stance toward the Cuban
dictatorship. Domestically, this "rescue" will demoralize the faithful
Catholics of the island and those Cubans who heroically oppose their
shepherds' collaboration with the communist wolves.
In this regard, the auxiliary bishop of Havana, Most Rev. Juan de Dios
Hernández, during the visit by the Vatican envoy, acknowledged that
"resistance" can be found among Catholic Cubans to the said
rapprochement between clergy and wolves. He took advantage of the
occasion to try to anesthetize the consciences of the faithful by
claiming that "we must be patient."
With this diplomatic "bailout," the Holy See and the Cuban bishops not
only benefit and contribute to the survival of the Castro regime, but
also help, by the principle of communicating vessels, to strengthen the
regimes of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, ostensive allies
of communist Cuba. In so doing, they also encourage revolutionary
radical currents in Brazil and other countries in the region acting as
Trojan horses. Accordingly, the responsibility of these churchmen before
God and History is far from small. Indeed, at stake is the now over
fifty-year regime of slavery of twelve million Cubans, the uncertain
future of many countries in the region; and the very future of the
continent with the world's largest Catholic population.
Armando Valladares, a former Cuban political prisoner, was U.S.
Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva during the
Reagan and Bush administrations.