My Pal Dave Responds
Dr. David Curp, who teaches Eastern European History at Ohio University, responds to the comment on my blog Fair Enough. I Can Buy That. Dave, being the verbose apparatchik of the professoriate that he is, naturally wrote a reply far too wordy to fit into a comment box. So with my natural sense of hospitality in full operation, I have graciously consented to post his reply here. It’s just the kind of guy I am, Dave. (Seriously, thanks for taking the time to reply. Your perspective is extremely helpful.):
Given that we are dealing with a closed society where the regime has its murderous hand’s on lots of people’s throats, I would be careful in judging the Cuban bishops and their spokespersons. The US bishops are another matter entirely–I think that there is much to deplore in any western effort to do anything but condemn Cuba’s current ruling clique in the strongest terms-I am simply proposing that different circumstances call for different measures.
And your comment on Mindszenty is a perfect case in point–Mindszenty took an unbending line, failed, and took much of the Church in Hungary down with him for more than a generation. Cardinals Wyszynski and Wojtyla at times worked with the regime and at other times fought it–Wyszynski did a number of things that gave the Vatican the heebie-jeebies, and according to research a friend of mine did in Moscow, the Polish Communists sent some very long letters to Moscow trying to reassure their comrades that Wojtyla was reasonable and could be worked with-while much of this was wishful thinking and an example of how many in the Polish CP were among the dimmer lights that this country has produced, my own research in Communist party archives here in Poland is pointing to a very complex reality of opposition and cooperation between Church and State. The Church’s involvement in the (state-sponsored and manipulated) peace movement, and its endorsement of their country’s ethnic cleansing of Poland’s Germans (condemned by Pius XII) are just a couple of examples.
And yes, I know that the Cuban bishops have gone pretty far in supporting the regime–but was their support for Elian’s return so obviously and unambiguously wrong? Even though I thought Elian should have stayed that is not the only way to look at what happened–even if everyone can condemn how it happened. Also concerns about the uneven impact of embargos are hardly unique to the Cuban or American episcopacy (and judging by the look of him and his retinue of thugs Castro and Co have not had to skip many meals because of our embargo). Again–we do not know what pressures the Cuban bishops are under–when Hitler wanted to bring the German bishops to heel, he wouldn’t attack them–he attacked the faithful, so that the German bishops learned that right behavior could buy “peace” while wrong behavior (and in a dictatorship it’s the people who control the truncheons who define right behavior) would carry consequences for innocents.
If you want to lay into someone, lay into the Kanucks who should know better and are doing alot to keep Cuba the happy, flourishing socialist utopia it is today. I would wish for something better from the Cuban bishops as well, but we don’t know what constraints they are operating under.