Catholic dissidents in Cuba call for calm

A Cuban Catholic dissident leader has called for calm reflection and responsible action in order to foster peace and unity among Cubans both on the island and throughout the world amidst uncertainty about the health of Fidel Castro and calls for change from US politicians and Cuban expatriates.

Catholic News reports that the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya (pictured), addressed his call to Cuban authorities, the international community, and peaceful opposition movements.

In an official statement, the Catholic dissident leader told Cuban authorities that, "If their pronouncements and actions are oriented toward maintaining an atmosphere of peace and respect for all Cubans, then no institution, organisation, or citizen will feel the need to use exclusive or offensive language, in threatening or attacking others."

"Such attitudes," Mr Paya said, "can lead to abuse and violence which is inconsistent with the atmosphere of respect, tolerance, and unity that Cuba needs and which all Cubans deserve by right."

"Cubans have the right and the need to think and talk about their lives and their future with confidence and serenity - knowing how to listen and showing respect for neighbor and for order," Mr Paya said.

He called on the EU, Latin America, Canada, the US, and the rest of the world to contribute "to an atmosphere of peace and serenity among all Cubans and, as much as possible, to understanding and dialogue among Cubans."

Mr Paya went on to warn against confusing "certain voices from the exile" who issue "irresponsible" statements with the voices of the "majority of the Cuban exiles who, while they have a peaceful spirit and also an immense and very just desire for a reencounter with their homeland whenever that is possible, though in an ordered and legal way, now prioritise the need for peace and unity in Cuba."

Mr Paya, who is also the leader of the Varela Project for a democratic transition on the island nation, likewise called on opposition movements to act with "responsibility and love toward the people of Cuba, above any particular strategies and political positions."

Meanwhile Prensa Latina reports that over 400 personalities, including eight Nobel prizewinners, urged the US to respect Cuba's sovereignty, and condemned the threats against its territorial integrity.

The document, "The Sovereignty of Cuba Must be Respected" said "Due to increasing threats against the integrity of a nation, and the peace and security of Latin America and the world, we call on the government of the US to respect Cuba's sovereignty and prevent an aggression at all costs."

Numerous Catholic activists, theologians and others were among 400 signatories. They include theologians Frei Betto and Leonardo Boff, World Social Forum co-founder and director of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Brazilian bishops, Chico Whitaker, and emeritus Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga.

The message was launched by Belgian Catholic sociologist of religion and member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, Fr François Houtart, in the presence of the international press accredited in Havana.

Catholic dissident leader in Cuba calls for peace and unity (Catholic News Agency, 14/8/06)
World Celebs: Respect Cuban Sovereignty (Prensa Latina, 7/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Varela Project (Wikipedia)
Initial signatories to PorCuba appeal

Cuban Church rejects foreign intervention (CathNews, 8/8/06)
Cuban Catholics hope for smooth transition (CathNews, 4/8/06)

16 Aug 2006