Cuban Church rejects foreign intervention

Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino told journalists that the Catholic Church will not accept foreign intervention in the island's affairs and in a pastoral letter, the Cuban bishops have asked the faithful to pray for President Castro.

Monsters and Critics reports that Cardinal Ortega said in Havana that the country's Catholic bishops are in contact with the political leadership provisionally headed by Raul Castro.

He admitted that contacts with the island's political leaders have included references to Fidel Castro's health but gave no further details.

In a pastoral message, the Cuban Catholic Bishops' Conference asked the faithful to pray for Castro's health and also to pray for those temporarily standing in for him to be "illuminated" in their tasks.

The message from the religious hierarchy also called for peace and calm.

"We Cuban Catholics pray for the homeland. We pray for Cuba at this moment and for those that govern it," Cardinal Ortega told journalists, when asked about communist Castro's current condition.

The Cuban newspaper Granma reports that the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba (COCC) had earlier sent a letter to all Catholics in the country asking communities "to offer prayers so that God accompanies President Fidel Castro in his illness and illuminates those who have provisionally received the responsibilities of government."

Regarding this, the Catholic hierarchy stated that "the delicate state of health from which the President is suffering () constitutes an especially significant moment for our people."

"The Catholic Church, as part of this community, shares this concern and the petitions of all its followers," continues the text, at the same time invoking the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre to whom "we confide everything that concerns us at this time in our country's history with a profound wish for peace and fraternal coexistence among all Cubans."

The letter which was read out on Sunday at masses offered around the island also stated that the prevailing stability and social harmony in Cuba "cannot be disturbed by any internal or external situation."

Pictured: Fidel Castro with Cardinal Jaime Ortega, 1998. Source: vitral.org.

Roman Catholic Church in Cuba opposes foreign intervention (Monsters and Critics 7/8/06)
Catholic Church calls for prayers for health of Cuban President (Granma 4/8/06)

Cuban Catholics hope for smooth transition (CathNews 4/8/06)

8 Aug 2006