.- Speaking to the Spanish news agency EFE, the general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba, Bishop Juan de Dios Hernandez Ruiz, said that ten years after the historic visit of John Paul II to the island, there exists a “slow improvement” in relations with the government, but the Church is seeking more opportunities for carrying out her mission of evangelization.
Bishop Hernandez told EFE the Pope’s visit allowed Cubans to know for certain that the Church “was alive,” but he pointed out that there is still a long way to go in order for the Church to fully unfold her mission of evangelization in the country.
Since John Paul II’s visit to Cuba in January 1998, relations between Church and State “have experienced difficult moments but things have moved ahead slowly with both sides increasingly seeking out improvement,” the bishop said.
“In this gradual process in Church-State relations, despite that our counterparts are people who do not have the gift of faith, I have seen an effort to understand the Church’s essence and activity,” he added.
Bishop Hernandez went on to say that 10 years after the Pope’s visit, relations with the State “are experiencing a slow, progressive, gradual process of improvement.”
He noted that while “dialogue has always existed” between the two parties, today it is possible “to express our thoughts and interests in a frank and unambiguous manner.” “There remains the greatest challenge, however, that of evangelization, of being able to carry out our mission more widely, to bring the gospel to distinct areas of society,” which implies, among other things, greater access to the media, which is state-controlled.
During the interview Bishop Hernandez underscored that he did not intend to “romanticize” or “idealize” the current state of Church-State relations. “That would certainly be dishonest and insincere,” he said.
“The Church in Cuba is striving to achieve greater openings for her mission, just like in any other part of the world,” the bishop said in conclusion.