"Recognizing all those who aided in the construction of the new church of San Benito del Crucero is not easy. It was always the dream of the community, of the missionaries and of the
Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba," he said.
Amid the joy over the new church, Fr. Rodríguez said that many Cubans consider it an act of "'heroism' to approach and enter the church."
After the revolution, the Church, worship, and public expressions of religion were prohibited, "and until not many years ago that continued. All this has had a lasting impact in people, because it had negative consequences in their academic, work, and social life".
"And although now that has been overcome legally … people haven't forgotten it and continue to have fears and are cautious. Unfortunately, entering a church still has many social disadvantages and it's not easy to overcome them," he stressed.
However, Fr. Rodríguez said that from now on, "surely it will not be so difficult to find room for encounter, coexistence, formation and development in which the entire population can participate. It's a great challenge for the community."
"With the new church and with the San Benito Pastoral Center a new stage in the life of the community opens that augurs new hopes for evangelization," he concluded.
Sacred Heart of Jesus parish near Pinar del Rio, the first new Catholic church in Cuba since the the country's revolution 60 years ago, was inaugurated in January 2019. It was to be the first of three new parishes, with the others in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.