Make Way for Castro…on the Communion Line?

The international rumor mill has it that Fidel Castro — El Jefe, El Commandante, or El Barbudo, to those who know him best — will be returning to the Catholic fold during Pope Benedict’s upcoming visit to Cuba. According to a post on, the “anti-clerical” Italian paper La Republicca is claiming Castro has “turned to God for solace.” A story on ABC’s Global News Blog quotes Castro’s daughter Alina: “During this last period, Fidel has come closer to religion: he has rediscovered Jesus at the end of his life. It doesn’t surprise me because dad was raised by Jesuits.”

Well, who wasn’t? Nevertheless, on First Things, Matthew Cantirino, cautiously hopeful, writes that Castro’s reversion: “would only would it offer further confirmation of what the events of 1989 and 1991 told us: not only is communism dead, but, perhaps, ideology itself is crumbling in the face of a century of renewed religiosity. Here at the so-called ‘end of history,’ the one force which has outlasted manmade ideologies turns out to be one that had been most widely dismissed, reviled, and written off as impotent. Yet, like Henry IV coming in from the snows of Canossa, religion ultimately triumphed over the pride of a secular empire.”

Yes, the Church has gotten a rough time lately. Any sign of renewal would be welcome. But if Castro does decide to re-vert, let’s resist the temptation to see it as the opening play in the Big Win. Better to see it in perspective, as the expansion of the list of Latin American Strongmen Who Are Also Catholic by one.

  • jkm

    Excellent point, that last one. And no one’s been specific about whether Fidel would necessarily revert to Catholicism. In fact, his daughter’s mention of his rediscovering Jesus sounds much more like the language of Latino evangelicals. (Growing up, we could always tell Protestants by the way they called Christ by his first name.) If he comes back through that door, no Communion line for him. But I would love to see him reconciled with the Church, if only to hear the sound of Sr Maria Consuelo—the Cuban refugee third grade teacher whose “I’ll bet you three rosaries that Communists are coming to drag us off to prison camp tonight” remarks made my childhood even more fraught than it otherwise would have been—whirling.

    [I'd love to see El Padre de la Revolucion handling a rattlesnake...or vice-versa.]

  • Joseph Drake

    Actually not that surprising given the content of his conversation with John Paul II, some of the things the regime did to ease up on Catholics, and as his daughter mentioned, his Jesuit upbringing.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    On the other hand, as the old boy faces his own mortality, he might just be hedging his bets, and trying to escape being sent to a very, very hot place, when he finally kicks the bucket.

    He might reconcile with the church, but he’s still got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do! I feel sorry for whatever hapless priest hears his confession—it’s gonna be a doozy, that’s for sure!

    If he’s serious about repenting, he can always start be pardoning everybody rotting in his prisons. Then he can send Elian Gonzalez back to Florida. In fact, he can provide free boat and/or plane service to anyone who wants to leave his island paradise.

    Then, it would be nice if he performed some public penance, such as crawling on his hands and knees through the streets of Cuba, while the people he oppressed get to throw mud, rocks and other, more fragrant, substances at him.

    Better yet, he can check into one of his own prisons, and live out the rest of his days being treated like one of his many prisoners.