[Marxism] Raul Castro attends first beatification ceremony in Cuba

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 3 11:51:58 MST 2008

Here's some additional information about Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuba's
relationship with the Catholic Church. Raul's attendance at Saturday's
beatification, along with several other top government and Communist
Party officials, has evoked a raft of favorable publicity about Cuba
in the dominant corporate media, and some in the Roman Catholic media
as well. There's even a note here about lay Cubans praising the Cuban
government for facilitating the conduct of this important public event.
Anything which reduces complaints from the citizenry against the Cuban
government would seem to be a good thing. Now if I thought that they
were going to get rid of abortion rights, that would be something to 
get worried about and to protest against. But Raul and other leaders
making a friendly visit to a church where they're celebrating the role
of one Cuban religious figure who opposed materialism and who played 
a positive and active role in the island's independence struggles?
That's a very positive thing. Anyway, here are some additional reports
by way of background. It's all good from what I can see so far.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

by Ousmanne Muhammed Touré
>From Juventud Rebelde, Oct. 14, 2004
"Bush may talk with God but 
God is on the side of Cuba and the Cubans.:


FIDEL at the dedication of the Convent of the Order 
of the Most Holy Savior of Saint Bridget (2003):

Cuba now has second blessed, a `champion of charity' [excerpt]
During the ceremony, Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez of Camaguey and
president of the Bishops' Conference of Cuba, gave a Bible as a gift
to Raul Castro, who was accompanied by Vice President Esteban Lago and
the head of religious affairs for the Communist Party, Caridad Diego.

Girl cured of terminal cancer 
brought new Cuban blessed to the altars:

Havana, December 1 (CNA).-The website of the Catholic bishops of Cuba
announced just hours before the beatification of Brother Jose Olallo
Valdes that Daniela Cabrera Ramos was cured of terminal cancer at the
age of three and that her healing paved the way for the Cuban priest's

FULL: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=14488

Cuban laity salute Raul's support for the beatification:
Cuba softens stance toward Catholic Church
Posted: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 2:16 PM
Filed Under: Havana, Cuba
By Mary Murray, NBC News Havana Bureau Chief


HAVANA – Cuba’s government took a significant step toward improving relations with
the Roman Catholic Church this past weekend. President Raul Castro attended mass
with the island’s Catholic hierarchy and thousands of faithful to beatify a 19th
century Cuban friar known as the "father of the poor."

For months leading up to the beatification of Friar Jose Olallo Valdes, the Cuban
press – which normally ignores religious news – published half a dozen stories depicting
his life.

Image: Cuba's President Raul Castro
Cuba's President Raul Castro, right, greets Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins during
the beatification ceremony for Friar Jose Olallo Valdeslallo Valdes on Nov. 29. 

At the same time, no one interfered with the church as it put up posters with Olallo’s
portrait across the island.

Those events along with President Castro’s surprise attendance Saturday at Camaguey’s
Church of the Virgin of Charity are being seen as positive signs of the growing 
rapprochement between Cuba’s communist government and the Catholic Church.

Miracle man?

Olallo lived from 1820 to 1889 when Cuba was a Spanish colony and dedicated his 
life to caring for the poor and sick in the central city of Camaguey. A member of
the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, Olallo helped the sick during an 1835 
cholera epidemic and also tended to the wounded during Cuba's first war of independence
(1868-1878) against Spain. His presence defied Spanish orders at the time that barred
certain religious clergy from ministering in Cuba.

The Cuban Roman Catholic Church started Olallo’s beatification in 1989, on the 100th
anniversary of his death. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, this is Olallo’s
final step before canonization, when he will officially be recognized as a saint.

Cubans pray to the humble monk to help heal the sick. He is credited with the miraculous
healing of a 3-year-old child suffering from an inoperable stomach tumor who recovered
after her parents appealed to him in prayer for help.

Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI certified the miracle ascribed to Olallo after
the family gave sworn testimony of their prayers and the child’s doctors confirmed
that the tumor disappeared with no lingering effects.

Raul Castro front row seat at ceremony

The ceremony, which took place some 300 miles east of Havana and broadcast on Cuban
state television and radio, showed President Castro seated in the front row of the
three-hour mass.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva, the Vatican envoy who presided over the ceremony, gave a 
sermon that paradoxically reflected some of the same ideals professed by the Cuban

"In the face of a materialist culture that we see imposing itself everywhere
and that pushes aside the weak and the poor, we learn from Olallo the virtues of
the wisdom of God and how to love thy neighbor universally," said Saraiva.

The ceremony included a procession of thousands that extended for over a mile, carrying
the monk’s remains in a golden urn.

At the close, Castro personally greeted the Vatican emissary along with the Papal
Nuncio Luigi Bonazzi, Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega and some two dozen more Cuban 
and foreign clergy.

The event is being seen as a landmark moment for Cuba’s Catholic Church, whose pastoral
work has been curtailed for almost half a century as a result of the friction with
the island’s atheist government.

Church activity restricted

Shortly after the Castro brothers came to power in 1959, the government expelled
136 priests and nationalized 350 parochial schools. All church activity was restricted
to church property and community projects shut down.

While the church was never officially banned, it was widely frowned upon. Churchgoers
were prohibited from joining the Communist Party – the power that controlled jobs,
housing and many advantages in Cuban society. In the 1970s and 1980s, rank-and-file
Catholics commonly complained about the discrimination they faced when seeking employment
or college admission.

According to Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega "the tension started to diminish"
in the 1980s with "an evolution on the part of the government."

But it wasn’t until the 1990s when icy relations between the church and state began
a real thaw.

In the early part of the decade the government abolished all references to atheism
in its official documents and allowed religious believers to join the ruling Communist
Party. Relations warmed even further when Pope John Paul II visited the island in

Then-president Fidel Castro met with the pope various times during his four-day 
visit, allowed local church leaders to mobilize their congregations to attend the
papal events and even allowed the pope’s mass to be broadcast over national TV and

Pushing for fuller freedom

Since then, the Catholic Church has continued to press for fuller religious freedom.
For instance, the church would like the right to bring in more missionaries and 
perform works of charity without first seeking government approval. It would also
like to open its own schools and have a voice in the state-controlled media.

Last spring, Pope Benedict praised Cuban Church leaders during a meeting at the 
Vatican to discuss the status of their dioceses. The many "difficulties and
limitations" placed on the Catholic Church in Cuba, Benedict said, have not
stopped it from growing and reaching out to help the sick and the poor.

That may be truer today than ever.

After Cuba was hit by three hurricanes this season, the church and the government
put differences aside and began working to aid storm victims. In an unprecedented
partnership, the two institutions have been handing out food, medicines and roofing
material to the half a million people left homeless. That cooperation is seen as
another step forward in further improving church state relations.


First Cuban Beatified
A beatification ceremony for Brother José Olallo Valdés was attended by the
president of the Council of State and of Ministers, Army General Raúl
Castro, and the prefect emeritus of the Causa de los Santos congregation,
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins.

By: Yahily Hernández Porto

Email: digital at jrebelde.cip.cu
2008-12-01 | 14:27:12 EST
Photo: Raúl AbreuZoom


CAMAGÜEY.—The beatification of Cuban religious leader Brother José Olallo
Valdés, of the Hospital Order of St. John of God, occurred in the early
morning hours of Saturday in the Cuban city of Camagüey, which has been
declared by the UN as a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity. Attending the
ceremony was the president of the Council of State and of Ministries of the
Republic of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro.

The beatification ceremony —the first ever held in Cuba— took place in the
Plaza of Liberty in the presence of the prefect emeritus of the Causa de los
Santos congregation, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins. As the officiating
priest, he read the Apostolic Letter signed by Pope Benedicto XVI that
approves the beatification of Brother José Olallo Valdés.

During the celebration, a picture of the newly blessed figure was unveiled,
as bells sounded, balloons were set adrift and doves released into the sky
as thousands of Cubans from across the entire country watched, along with
numbers of foreign visitors.

The mass concluded with the procession that transferred the remains of the
devotee two kilometers to the Church of St. John of God.

The religious declaration held special interest among the followers of
Brother Olallo, because now he can be worshiped locally.

The humanitarian conduct of young Olallo —who at only 15 arrived in
Port-au-Prince as a member of the Hospital Order of the St. John of God
religious order— compelled the church to grant him the title “the father of
the poor,” among other honors.

Upon his arrival in Cuba from Port-au-Prince, Brother Olallo served and
assisted the religious hospital institution as a chief nurse, a position
that he occupied almost from his beginning at the hospital. This was in an
area hit by a cholera epidemic that swept across a great part of the country
in 1835.

His assistance also stood out during the War of Independence, better known
as the “Ten Years War,” where he gave medical attention to Mambise soldiers
captured by Spanish troops, and safeguarded the bodies of the dead.

He was the religious worker who cleaned the bloodstained and muddied face of
the greatest of the children of Camagüey, Major General Ignacio Agramante y
Loynaz. The leader was shot down by Spanish troops on May 12, 1873 in St.
John of God Plaza.

José Olallo Valdés was born of unknown parents on February 12, 1820. The
date was known only because of a note that accompanied the small José. He
was left as a foundling at the orphanage of San José from Havana, the place
where he defined his vocation as a religious hospital worker of St. John of

He died on March 7, 1889 after reaching great fame and adoration among the
people of Camagüey, who to this day recognize his virtues and love for his

At the beginning of the beatification mass, Cuban President Raúl Castro
received, from the hands of Deacon Miguel Ángel Ortiz of the Soledad Church
in Camagüey, a multi-language Bible, presented to him by Monsignor Juan
García, the archbishop of that city.

When concluding the ceremony, Raúl Castro greeted the ecclesiastic
authorities and other members of the clergy, nuns and the people of
Camagüey, who greeted him enthusiastically

The beatification ceremony was also attended Political Bureau members of the
Communist Party of Cuba Esteban Lazo and Ramón Espinosa Martin, head of the
Eastern Army and Hero of the Republic of Cuba; Caridad Diego, head of the
Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee, and Eusebio Leal
Splenger, historian of the City of Havana.

Also participating were Julio Caesar García Rodríguez, who is a member of
the Central Committee and the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba
in Camagüey, and Jesus García Collazo, president of the Provincial Assembly.

     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

More information about the Marxism mailing list