Pope urges change for Cuba

Reuters reports on Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to Cuba, and says that the Pope is offering Cuba the church's assistance should Pope it move away from communism, which he claims no longer works. From the article:

Pope Benedict said on Friday communism no longer works in Cuba and that the Roman Catholic was ready to help the island find new ways of moving forward without "trauma".


Speaking on the plane taking him from Rome for a trip to Mexico and Cuba, the pope told reporters: "Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."

Responding to a question about his visit to the island, a communist bastion 90 miles off the coast of the United States for more than 50 years, Benedict added: "In this way we can no longer respond and build a society. New models must be found with patience and in a constructive way. 

Benedict offered the help of the Church in achieving a peaceful transition on the island saying the process required patience but also "much decisiveness."

"We want to help in a spirit of dialogue to avoid traumas and to help move forward a society which is fraternal and just, which is what we desire for the whole world."

For more on the papal visit to Cuba and Mexico, check out this panel discussion from Al Jazeera's "Inside Story Americas" featuring Fr. Tom Reese, SJ. Fr. Reese highlights the rise of Evangelicalism in Latin America and the threat that it poses to Catholic hegemony in the region. He said:

"The Catholic church in Latin America is what I call an old, lazy monopoly, like the old IBM…The Evangelicals are like the Silicon start-ups of Christianity, they're entrepreneurial, creative, aggressive." 

Michael J. O'Loughlin


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Bill Taylor
6 years 10 months ago
I visited Guatamala four years ago and was astonished to see how rapidly the Mayan people in the highlands are becoming evangelicals.  Every Sunday, large crowds of people were at the lakeside, being baptized to the tune of Gospel rock music and loud preaching. 

The Church paid a high price to support those people during the bloody war there a generation or so ago.  An American priest who served on the other side of the big lake gave his life.  We went to that town and discovered the Protestants were having a big revival there, and learned from the Guatamalan priest who now serves that parish that, for a while, the majority of the people in town had become Protestant. 

Talked to the Spanish priest who serves the  main community.  He lamented the aggressive, well financed Protestant approach and his own lack of financial resources to follow through on so many ministries.  But his Masses were crowded and prayerful, with powerful music that could challenge the church rock of the Protestants.  He told me he and his companion serve six or seven small towns as well. 

In many ways, it was the usual story:  Two priests in an old church in a large community when there should have been fivor six parishes.  Lack of vocations. 

David McCarthy
6 years 10 months ago

"The Evangelicals are like the Silicon start-ups of Christianity, they're entrepreneurial, creative, aggressive." 

And the vast majority are likely to go out of business in the not too distant future. Just as the intellectually curious among a tired and fading Protestantism in the US are abandoning ship and jumping aboard the much more secure ship of Catholicism, so in time, when the razzle dazzle of fundamentalist faith has worn off, many a truth seeking South American will return to the Catholic Church. If you look around the world, Protestantism in Germany, Scandinavian countries, the UK and in other places, is in a coma. In the US, the Evangelicals are diminishing in power, and I doubt it will be a significant force ten years from now. In the long run, the Catholic Church will regain some of what it has lost and the Evangelicals will lose much of what they have gained; both will lose a great deal more to a vague pick and mix spirituality but Catholicism will lose far less than the Protestant communities there and worldwide and so will stand the test of time as it has done so for two thousand years. Give South America twenty years and you will begin to see their own versions of "emerging" traditions popping up, trying to get back to the past. South America will hear the same record their northern neighbours heard throughout the 80s, 90s and over the last decade, but with a unique twist, and like them, they will get bored and split and get too close to politics, the pattern will repeat itself and it will eventually go bust. It is a matter of time.
david power
6 years 10 months ago
I spent four years in Latin America and went on missions in Mexico and Peru.The situation is dire.
In Chiapas the people in most villages get a visit once a year from a visiting priest.The question that the Catholic Church has to face is "is it better for people to not receive Jesus  rather than to receive him from protestants?".
I met many Evangelicals who are quite aggressive and have a hatred of catholicism.
Others may be more tolerant but still view it as a massive abberation.
Nonetheless they are more radical in their discipleship than any catholics. 
For the Church to stem the tide they will have to get more feet on the ground.A surge is called for.
It worked in Iraq and will work down there too. Married Priests is just a question of time.We should all pray to St Peter and Mrs St Peter to get it done!  
david power
6 years 10 months ago
4th generation warfare is my solution David.
The best model of evangelization would be that of the Mormons.The Catholic Church is dependent on child baptisms to keep the numbers up.
There is nothing like the type of discipleship found in the Mormons.Of course that comes back to the structural sin involved in clericalism.
Bishop Mitt Romney is a good example of what can be done when the mission is shared.
Fr Reese also proposed something along these lines when he called for DIY catholicism.Of course the main snag is that even if it is never said openly except by those who are hostile to the Church ,the hierarchy fears a more active laity.
Most Priests imagine a catholic faith lived without heavy input from them is very undesireable as their relevance is built on that role. 
The point  about Married priests is not some liberal longing in me but the reality of catholic witness would be a lot more visible and accessible to others when it was no longer the preserve of celibate men.Every practising catholic should and could have the option of a clearer vocation.Volunteerism will only take us so far.I think Pope Benedict took a step in that direction by allowing a married couple to write the meditations recently.But I am sure that the couple were vetted extremely and are well within the beltway.    
Carlos Orozco
6 years 10 months ago
A strong Catholicism can't exist were Liberation Theology has contaminated the community. The Holy Spirit needs freedom from politics to inspire His Church. Evangelicals have a field day when they encounter Catholic theological nonsense.
Jim McCrea
6 years 10 months ago
"Evangelicals have a field day when they encounter Catholic theological nonsense."

But that, of course, has nothing to do with liberation theology - but Catholic theological nonsense in general.  Not all is, but way too much definitely is.
Vince Killoran
6 years 10 months ago
Just once I would love it if a foreign head-of-state or international leader visited the Vatican and then came out into St. Peter's Square-or even on the plane trip home-and announced, "Prime Minister- urges change for Vatican."
david power
6 years 10 months ago
Vince, I like the humour but this is all playacting.
Nothing more.
Popes play both sides of the fence and politicians indulge them knowing that they will get a slice of the cake.
Santo Subito was the master at this.He had Pinochet and Castro eating out of his hands as they sat for dinner while Christ languished in jails in both countries and mothers of buried victims cried themsleves to sleep every night for decades.A moral rallying cry and the media gets weak in the knees.  

@David, sisters and brothers etc is all very well but the whole point of catholicism is not unspoken good but carefully monitered good.Every Priest is jotting up his good deeds and those of his fellow saints.Catholics count.More than praying they count.Bishops would make Diophantus look like a slacker.To just throw their lot in with the "Christians" of all stripes would be a denial of the will to power that is evident in David of comment 2.
Evangelization means bums on seats.Somebody has to hand out the leaflets and the Pope will guarantee a show to top all.
Jim McCrea
6 years 10 months ago
David @ #2:  please let us know what you are smoking!  I lovvvvve your fantasies.


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