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Political dissidents criticize Cuban cardinal’s remarks at Harvard

Catholic World News - May 01, 2012

Speaking at a panel discussion at Harvard University, Cardinals Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana and Sean O’Malley of Boston agreed that greater freedom for the Church followed in the wake of Blessed John Paul’s 1998 visit to the Communist nation. According to Vatican statistics, only 53% of the population is Catholic, but now, in Havana, 82% of infants are being baptized.

Calling for reconciliation among Cubans, Cardinal Ortega lamented that in 1995, a Miami auxiliary bishop asked him not to use the word “reconciliation” while speaking to Cuban exiles in Florida.

“It is a shame that a bishop, that we, should have to silence a word that is ours, a part of Christianity,” said Cardinal Ortega, who also criticized dissidents who occupied a church prior to Pope Benedict’s recent apostolic journey to Cuba.

Dissidents in Cuba and members of the Cuban community in Miami criticized the prelate’s remarks.

“It seems to me vile that the severity of his criticism is always directed at the exile community and the victims, not the oppressors,” said Radio Mambí journalist Ninoska Pérez. “Worse yet, he … talks about reconciling with an enemy who has not repented and who continues to repress.”

Ordained a priest in 1964 and detained in Communist work camps from 1967-68, Cardinal Ortega, now 75, was ordained a bishop in 1979 and appointed Archbishop of Havana in 1981.

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