FaithWorld

Cuba’s Catholic Church may restrict rare forum for open debate

By Reuters Staff
June 17, 2014
(Police stand in the shade near Havana's 18th century Cathedral June 14, 2010. Vatican Foreign Minister Dominque Mamberti will visit Cuba this week at a time when the Catholic church is flexing its political muscle and calling for change on the communist-led island. His five-day visit, which starts on Tuesday, follows the release of one of Cuba's estimated 190 political prisoners and the transfer of 12 others to jails closer to their homes in moves requested by church leaders. A mass will be celebrated at the cathedral during Mamberti's visit. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

(Police stand in the shade near Havana’s 18th century Cathedral June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

The resignation of two editors of an outspoken Roman Catholic Church magazine in Cuba threatens to stall what had been a thriving political dialogue inside Cuba and a rare forum to challenge the ruling Communist Party publicly.

The former editors of Espacio Laical magazine, Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez, used the Internet to promote debate on political issues such as the need for a multiparty system, internet expansion, reintegration with the diaspora and the strengths and weaknesses of reforms under President Raul Castro.

They quit last week after 10 years on the job, saying in their resignation letter it was because of pressure from inside the Church hierarchy, not the government, from people who did not want the Church to get involved in politics.

While small by Latin American standards, the Cuban Catholic Church is by far the largest and best organized force on the Caribbean island with a different ideology than the Communist Party.

Now Church insiders and diplomats fear conservative bishops from the Cuban provinces are attempting to reverse the course of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, a moderate who is scheduled to retire soon and who had improved relations with the Cuban state.

Read the full story by Marc Frank here.

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