Two Catholic bishops in Cuba said the country is moving toward a more democratic system, despite the continual dominance of a single political party.
“The country is taking steps that are not exactly the same as before. This is an indicator that we may possibly be heading toward our own kind of democracy and manner of governing,” Bishop Emilio Aranguren of Holguin said.
Both Bishop Aranguren and Auxiliary Bishop Juan de Dios Hernandez of Havana, made their comments during an interview with the Uruguayan newspaper La Republica. The bishops were in Uruguay participating in the 33rd General Assembly of the Latin American Bishops’ Council.
Bishop Hernandez said that in Cuba “there is still just one political party, but in this democracy there will need to be different parties.”
“And so how do we get there?” he asked. “Five years ago you didn’t hear much from those who had different opinions, and today you do, and the opinions of a particular person or group of persons are taken into consideration,” he added.
Both bishops said “changes are being implemented in the country, slowly, but they are changes nonetheless.” They pointed to the fact that most Cubans took Fidel Castro’s resignation in 2008 in stride, despite his more than four decades in power.
Bishop Hernandez also denied that the government has launched a new persecution against Catholics.
He said there is “more freedom” for the clergy in Cuba. “Of course it isn’t what we would like it to be, we would like there to be more, and they know it. But we are betting on a gradual process. I think that in the future the Church will have more chances to be present in those areas that are part of her mission and that we have requested,” he added.
The Catholic Church “is not a political party,” but a “servant of the people,” the bishop said. Cuban officials “have grasped the importance of the spiritual value that the Church has for the people,” he said.