For the first time since the Marxist revolution, a new Roman Catholic church is being erected in Cuba.
The BBC reports:
Its attitude to religion has softened since the fall of the Soviet Union, but this is the first Catholic church to be built for more than 50 years.
The island nation has been communist since the overthrow of Fulgenico Batista in the Marxist revolution of 1959. (From that time until 1992, Cuba’s constitution said that the country was officially atheist.) Revolutionaries under Fidel Castro entered into a power struggle with the Catholic Church–accusing the clergy of defending the deposed dictatorship. Hundreds of Cuban priests were forced into exile; and Cuba’s Catholic schools–including the school where Fidel Castro had once studied–were shuttered.
In recent years the government’s hard-line censorship of religion has faded, though. It should be no surprise to see this new church going up–and we should expect to see many more erected in the next few years. That’s because 54 Cuban young men are studying for the priesthood at San Carlos and Ambrosio Seminary, which was the first Catholic building to have been permitted since the revolution.
CNN’s Belief Blog reported in 2012:
Not until Pope John Paul II’s historic visit in 1998 did the church win approval to build the new seminary.
When the seminary opened in 2010, President Raul Castro attended the inauguration ceremony. The first stone used in the building, blessed by John Paul II, now stands at the seminary entrance.
When Pope Benedict XVI visited the island nation in 2012 was seen as a big boost for the faith in that country. The Cuban protest group Women in White has extended an invitation to Pope Francis to come to Cuba–which is a possibility, when the pope visits the U.S. next year.
* * * * *Despite two generations of suppression, the Catholic faith has not disappeared in Cuba; so its resurgence in the public square will be a welcome event for people of faith in that country.
According to a 2010 study by the Pew Forum, Cuba’s population has remained staunchly Catholic, even in the face of government censure of religion. An estimated 59 percent of Cubans are Christian–and of those, most are Roman Catholic.