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 GetReligion.org, 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.