For a long time I belonged to your same branch of the Lord's army. Although I am now part of a smaller, less influential branch, certainly we continue in the same army of the Lord and with the same desire to see the Kingdom of God present "on earth as it is in heaven."
I am also part of a unique cultural group with a peculiar experience. Although many of us were not actually born in Cuba, in many parts of the world they call us, "those Cubans from Miami." And they are right; we have Cuban blood and are children and grandchildren of political exiles.
While we thank God for your recent visit to Cuba, I often find myself listening to the views of Cuban Americans like me, who only desire what is best for the future of that beloved island.
I only have three questions to pass on to you, which I often hear from my Cuban-American counterparts when it comes to the Church and Cuba, which most of us ask ourselves, but remain totally unanswered:
▪ Why do you and other religious leaders so strongly condemn capitalism, and we are even offered a list of all the disasters that arise as a result of it in official church documents and speeches, but we never see an equally strong condemnation of atheistic communism and the ideologies that stem from it, which continue to do so much damage in our world? That inequality in condemning seems unfair and unjust.
▪ If we really want to help the poor, why ignore those suffering the great poverty of lack of freedom and, just because they somehow express their despair, claiming that their most basic human rights be respected, they are detained, harassed and beaten by the Castro regime? Every day young Cubans arriving on our shores -and countless others never get here alive- looking for that freedom.
▪ Is it more important to have diplomatic relations with a country that has not had free elections in over 50 years, that mistreats its people, and has a very well-documented track record of ongoing oppression and even robing church properties, than to seek justice, the common good and the longed for freedom of all Cubans? I believe that the Church of Christ has to be more connected and concerned with the people and not so cozy with the oppressors. The excuse that often arises is that this is a "pastoral visit" and not "political", but that argument is no longer valid, because we have seen many examples in which the Holy See and its extensive diplomatic corps are widely involved in political situations. Why is it any different in the case of Cuba?
I know. The vast majority of people who read these questions say "these Miami Cubans," do not understand. And I have come to the conclusion that they must be right. The truth is we do not understand.
I do not understand, nor do I think I can ever begin to understand, why a man of God can meet with the oppressors and exchange gifts, but ignores well organized dissident groups, the imprisoned and the oppressed; I cannot understand why religious institutions have forgotten that Christianity was born of martyrs, not from those who were silent in the face of injustice. I do not understand how we cannot seem to learn from recent history, when during World War II, the vast majority of Christian leaders remained silent over the murder of more than six million people -mostly Jewish brothers and sisters of ours- who were victims of another senseless tyrant. These are facts of history that cannot continue to be ignored.
Your Holiness, we do wish you well, but "these Miami Cubans" still do not understand.
Father Albert R. Cutié is an Episcopal (Anglican) priest in the Diocese of Southeast Florida. He is Rector of Saint Benedict's in Plantation www.saintbenedicts.org