During a recent visit to the United States, Cardinal Jaime L. Ortega of Havana said he is willing to endure criticism and attacks for the sake of achieving reconciliation in Cuba.
Cardinal Ortega spoke at an event in Boston on April 28 titled, “The Role of the Catholic Church in Cuba,” organized by Harvard University and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.
The Archbishop of Havana, a target of criticism from Cubans in exile who want him to take a harder line with the Raul Castro government, spoke on the need for reconciliation in Cuba among those with different political and philosophical positions.
“I am not going to attack those who think differently, I only want to say that they play a great role, with some taking great personal risk at being harshly convicted,” he said.
“We are aware of this, and the Church in Cuba and I are attacked in every way possible, but I think that it would be good for there to be a process of reconciliation among Cubans.”
Cardinal Ortega pointed to the exemplary life of recently-deceased Bishop Agustin Roman, the first Cuban appointed a bishop for the United States and founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Miami.
The cardinal said when he first came to Miami in 1995, “Our dear friend, Bishop Roman, who is no longer with us now and who I loved so much as well, took me aside and said, 'In your speeches, your homilies, you talk about reconciliation. Don’t mention that word in Miami.'”
“It was hard for me not to, but he knew the situation there better than me. But it is terrible that a bishop, that we, cannot say that word which is ours and belongs to Christianity.”
“But what shall we do? Not say it forever? Wait for better days to come? Or bring about better times so that it is understood that we have to be a reconciled nation?” he asked.
“Perhaps this takes time and is a sort of martyrdom all Christians, including myself as pastor, must undergo. That is what it means to give your life for the sheep.”
“We must endure these sufferings, because there is no resurrection without the cross, and I have accepted that I must endure this, and that we must endure this in order to bring about that reconciliation among Cubans,” the cardinal said.
The complete event, as well as Cardinal Ortega’s speech, can be seen at: