March 22, 2000: Diario Las Américas, Miami FL
March 23, 2000: Newsgroups soc.culture.cuba, soc.rights.human, alt.politics.communism, alt.politics.usa.misc, alt.politics.media, alt.news-media, can.politics, soc.culture.china
The petition of forgiveness
that was not given: the ecclesiastical collaboration with Communism
By Armando Valladares
In recent textbooks written by H.H. John Paul II and also from many other Cardinals where they ask for forgiveness for that which they consider past and present sins committed by the sons and daughters of the Church, I was unable to find any reference of complicity by so many clergymen with Communism in Cuba and other countries around the world, either by action or omission, during the last decades; neither the devastation that was provoked in the Catholic flock by the "liberation theologians," of Marxist inspiration.
The observation of that obvious absence, filled me up with bewilderment and grief. In effect, if this is about identifying and admitting guilt, could there had ever been any other event more important in the past XX century than the ecclesiastical collaboration with an "intrinsically perverse" ideology, responsible for the massacre of 100 million people? If this is so - and I wish I could be proven wrong, not by name-calling or disqualification, but by a serious and in a documented way - how then explain that omission?
In relation to Cuba, like in a film full of nightmares, it comes to my mind the public backing of Cardinal Silva Henriquez and of the "Christians for Socialism," to the dictator Castro, in 1971, when he visited Chile during the Socialist regime of Salvador Allende; the statements made in Cuba in 1974, by Mons. Agostino Casaroli, architect of the Vatican "ostpolitik," then Secretary of the Council of Public Affairs for the Holy See and later on Cardinal Secretary of State, that "the Catholics who live in the island are happy inside the Socialist system," and that "in general, the Cuban people do not have any difficulty with the Socialist government," denying up front so many historical evidences; the statements made in Cuba in 1989 by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray - then president of the Pontificial Commission for Justice and Peace and today, president of the Central Committee for the Jubilee 2000 - that the "Church of Silence" did not exist any more in the prison-island; also in 1989, a letter written by Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, of Sao Paulo, addressed to "dearest Fidel," in which he pointed out the "achievements of the Revolution" as not less than "the signs of the Kingdom of God;" and the repeated pronunciations of Cardinal Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, during the last decades, in favor of a dialogue and collaboration with the Communist regime.
How many more instances have been documented in regards to the collaboration of so many clergymen in the Américas with Cuban Communism!
On the eve of the 27th Interamerican Gathering of Bishops, which took place in the prison-island of Cuba between the 14th to the 16th of February of 1999, and through an open letter to the board members of CELAM and to the Episcopal Conference of the U.S. and Canada that were meeting there, I had the opportunity to reiterate what I say today: it would have been very difficult indeed for the prolongation during these decades, of the Communist dictatorship in Cuba and of the Cuban people's martyrdom, if it wasn't for that silence, for that temporizing and even contemptment of so many ecclesiastical figures of the Americas; attitudes that in general, have continued since the beginning of the Communist revolution in Cuba until today (cfr. Diario Las Américas, Miami, January 31,1999).
I might add on the same note - and in a more universal plane, which includes the Cuban problem but it broadly transcends it - a fact that within the perspective of time is really alarming: the Vatican II Council's negative stand to condemn Communism, even though it was solemnly asked for and subscribed by 456 conciliaris Fathers from 86 countries. During the Council's sessions, Cardinal Antonio Bacci had pointed out the mandatory necessity of an explicit condemnation against Communism: "Every time that the Ecumenical Council met, was to resolve the great problems that were confronting at that time and condemn its respective errors. I think that by being silent on this point, it would be an unforgivable gap, better said, a collective sin. This is the great theoretical and practical heresy of our times; and if the Council does not address it, it would seem as a failed Council." (Acta Synodalia, vol.IV, parte II, pp.669-670). In fact, to analyze the contemporary problems of Catholics without mentioning about Communism - an adversary so completely opposed to its doctrine, so powerful, so brutal and so astute as the Church has never seen before in History - it would be similar if today an International Medical Congress would meet to discuss and to study the main diseases, omitting even any references about AIDS...
For all those deplorable attitudes by so many sons and daughters of the Church, there was not asked for any forgiveness in an explicit way. I profoundly lament this as a Catholic, as a Cuban and as one more unaccountable victims.
I wish to express that I don't feel alone in my critique about the recent ceremonies of asking for forgiveness. There were statements made by ecclesiastical authorities and by known Catholic intellectuals that manifested their doubts and even their differences about central aspects of such ceremonies. Anyway, I would like to reiterate once more, the concepts expressed to the high-ranking Inter-american prelates gathered in Havana, in 1999, about the rights of a Catholic to filially be able to express his or her point of view on such delicate subjects: the Church never was, the Church is not, the Church will never be a prison to the consciousnesses of its sons and daughters. This is why I am certain that it will understand these respectful commentaries of a faithful Cuban catholic, that while in Castro's dungeons, implored to the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, the grace to resist - even willing to pay the price with my own life if necessary - any type of acceptance with the disastrous Cuban revolution or even get close to the regime, based on the traditional teachings of the Church which condemns communism as "intrinsically perverse," and it considers "inadmissible the collaboration with it on any grounds." (Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris).
Armando Valladares is a Cuban ex-political prisoner, was ambassador of the United States before the U.N. Human Rights Commission, in Geneva, during the Reagan and Bush administrations.