… if the Vatican remains true to its social teachings, it can never allow the Castro brothers back in the fold. Just ask Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and his experience with the regime and its culture of death mindset. The regime has not changed on this point. Never will. End of story

Over at Terry Mattingly’s blog GetReligion.org, there is a piece published yesterday that will surely upset large segments of the Cuban-American community. Mattingly reports in the  “Last Temptation of Castro” that, according to Italian media sources, “Fidel Castro will be received back into the communion of the Roman Catholic Church during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the island in March.”

Fidel Castro will never repent for his crimes, ever. Nor will his brother Raul. It is not in their nature. They are hypocrites — vile exemplars of evil on earth. They have persecuted the Catholic Church since the start of the regime and continue to do so to this day. There are state policy security cameras in front of all Catholic Churches in Cuba. Priests must temper their homilies so as not to offend the regime. And more recently, there are even reports that the regime will deny opposition leaders from attending the Mass that will be officiated by Pope Benedict. Not much repentance here.  As I said, there never will be.

Yet before we start lobbing barbs at the Vatican and the Pope, some history is in order (there is a post over at the great website,  Babablu blog where, in the comments section, the anti-Catholic rhetoric has begun on a posting related to this to story).

Pope John Paul and Communist Dictator Jaruzelski

Pope John Paul II made at least nine trips to Poland, three of these visits took place before the end of the Cold War and while the Communist regime was still in power: 1979, 1983, and 1987.  During the 1987 trip, he humiliated the Communist Party by openly embracing Poland’s Solidarity movement headed by labor leader Lech Walesa. In 1990, Walesa would become Poland’s leader.

Up until Solidarity’s win in 1990, Polish dictator General Wojcciech Jaruzelski and his secret polish had committed scores of atrocities against the Church. In 1986 they even murdered a Catholic priest.

Some Cuba policy watchers in the United States believe that the Polish Solidarity effort can be replicated in Cuba. I strongly disagree this can happen, but, the parallels exist and cannot be ignored.  For example, just like the Polish Cold War-era Cardinal Józef Glemp, Cuba’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega takes a seemingly conciliatory position when dealing with the regime. As in Poland during the Cold War, this has upset many members of the Cuban clergy and scores of Cuban-Americans (present company included).

The Vatican is a state with a mission to billions of the faithful; it has pursued a dual policy of conciliation with rogue regimes in order to advance its mission for its people. Some clergy, as in the case of the liberation theology movement, abused this duality but, as with Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict has been quick to shut these people down. In the end, this dual approach worked for Poland. The Solidarity movement, supported by the Roman Catholic Church, spawned a movement that put in place the forces that would usher in freedom.

Unlike Poland, however, Solidarity-like efforts will not work Cuba. For example, there is no independent labor union movement in Cuba, in Poland there was.  The only legal political or labor party in Cuba is tied to the Communist Party.  Then there is geography. Poland is not an island, so getting help and assistance to these groups was a whole lot easier, but no less dangerous, than in the case of Cuba.

My point with all this? Be careful being too quick to attack the Pope. It is easy for those of us living in freedom to judge what we do not know or suffer on a daily basis. For a majority of opposition leaders on the island, their faith is all thy have at this point. While it really irked folks like me to see Pope John Paul II standing next to Cuba’s dictators, there is no doubt that the harm this did was substantially outweighed by his message to millions of Cuba’s people. That image by the way, of throngs of people going to Mass, sent shivers down the spine of the regime. Only organized Communist Party rallies would bring out people like that, by force. This crowd came out on their own.

To Cuba’s Catholic leaders, my hope is that they will find a better way to express the frustration of the Cuban people than they have to this day. The same goes for Catholic leaders who live in the United States and with the Cuban-American community. History will show that these leaders have made a terrible mistake and political miscalculation when it comes to the Cuba question.

I am withholding judgement on the Pope Benedict’s visit to Cuba. I’d like to hear the message he has for the people of Cuba and for the regime. As for Fidel Castro and his so-called conversion remember that, under Catholic doctrine, abuse of the sacrament of confession is a mortal sin. After life on earth, Castro and his thugs are going nowhere but to the eternal BBQ. And if the Vatican remains true to its social teachings, it can never allow the Castro brothers back in the fold. Just ask Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and his experience with the regime and its culture of death mindset. The regime has never changed on this point. never will. End of story.

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