Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"An Open letter to Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino"

From fellow FREEDOM fighter Alberto de la Cruz at Babalu :

The following open letter to Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino is a collaborative effort among Cubans and Cuban Americans to reach out to the Archbishop of Havana and ask him to be the shepherd that drives the wolves away from the flock, not the shepherd that negotiates with them. The letter, in both Spanish and English, has been submitted as a petition so that all who care to join in this message can append their signature. The letter, along with the list of signatories, will then be respectfully submitted to the Cardinal.

Please take a moment to click HERE and add your name to the letter.

An Open letter to Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino Archbishop of Havana

Your Eminence:

Your recent actions and comments have stirred a lot of controversy and led many to question the motives behind your collaboration with one of the most abusive regimes on earth. At best, some think that you have lived far too long under a brutal dictatorship, and like a long-term hostage, can no longer discern the difference between what most of the world considers “normal” and “abnormal” behavior. At worst, some accuse you of aiding the elites who rule Cuba, and of safeguarding their power.

This letter seeks to explain why so many Cubans feel betrayed by you, and why your efforts on behalf of the prisoners have caused more grief than relief.

First and foremost, you have played a key role in stripping Cuba of some of its best citizens, and in ensuring that the current status quo remains unchanged, all in the name of “social harmony.” Yes, working for the release of non-violent prisoners of conscience is an admirable thing, in and of itself. But the sad fact is that none of the dissidents being released from prison through your mediation are really being freed outright, as they deserve. Instead, they are being sent directly from their vermin-infested cells into exile, to a foreign land that does not want to recognize them as political exiles or refugees, and is more interested in dispersing them to remote locations than in offering any genuine assistance. This is not only a violation of their human rights, but also against the social teachings of the Church, which uphold the dignity of every individual, the sanctity of the family, and everyone’s right to freedom of conscience.

Second, the deal you brokered between Raul Castro and Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos was carefully designed to fool the European Union into thinking that genuine reform had finally come to Cuba, and that it was high time for the Europeans to stop badgering the Castro regime about their uncivil behavior. Fortunately, the European Union seems not to have been duped by this trick.

Third, that trip you took to Washington D.C. – something forbidden to all of your flock – was also carefully designed to enhance power of the Castro regime and forestall any genuine reforms. In essence, you flew to Washington to beg for Dollars on behalf of Castro Incorporated. Nothing more, nothing less. For what would be the sole outcome of the lifting of the so-called embargo and of travel restrictions for Americans, but simply an increase in cashflow? Greater openness? Greater freedom? Economic growth? Forget all that. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that the two million tourists from the free world that flood Cuba’s beaches every year have done nothing to improve the political climate or the economic well-being of Cuba.

Fourth, on August 14th, one of your subalterns, Bishop Emilio Aranguren, acted as an agent of the tyrants, suggesting to Reina Tamayo, the grieving mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a woman who has been harassed for months, that she has no right to visit her son’s grave unless she does so alone. Is this the best that “dialogue” can offer? If so, maybe you should think it over. And perhaps you should also think about the fact that it was not Bishop Aranguren who really helped Reina Tamayo, but rather the foreign news media who finally had the courage to flock to her home. The mere fact that they would be there to record the abusive behavior of the Castro regime was enough to dispel the hundreds of aggressors who had prevented her and her friends from going to the cemetery through brute force.

Finally, you have publicly complained about the letter that 165 of your bravest, most honorable Cuban brethren sent to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in which they justly complained of your conduct. This response on your part may be the clearest indication that you are truly out of step with the civilized world and Holy Mother Church. You refer to their letter as “offensive.” Yet, these men and women are risking their lives and their well-being, in order to gain true justice for themselves and their fellow Cubans. They are literally offering up their lives for their brethren, in an ultimate act of love (John 15:13). They are the good Samaritans, not the uncaring Pharisee who ignored the wounded man at the roadside. (Luke 10:25-37) Through your spokesman Father Orlando Marquez, you scolded them as ungrateful and said that the Church is working on behalf of the “respect and dignity of all Cubans and the social harmony of Cuba.”

This statement raises a crucial question, Your Eminence: how does the denial of nearly every human right sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, most civilized nations, and the United Nations lead to “respect” and “dignity”? And this leads to a second question: since when has Holy Mother Church equated brutal atheistic repression with “social harmony?”

The only hint of an answer you have given to such questions is deeply disturbing. You invoke “pastoral” concerns, claiming that you are straining to avoid “political tendencies.” Yet, this dichotomy that you see between pastoral concerns and politics is not only specious, but also contrary to Church teaching and common sense. Your reasoning indicates, above all, that you choose not to accept the political reality in which you and all Cubans live, for wherever tyrants set themselves up as God and Caesar, no one can distinguish between “rendering unto Caesar” and “rendering unto God,” (Mark 12:17). Unfortunately, every act in Cuba, every gesture is a “political tendency,” no matter how sacred or mundane, from receiving the Eucharist to placing food on the table.

Back in the late fourth century, Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan, made no such distinctions. Ambrose repeatedly stood up to the Roman Emperor Theodosius, reprimanding him for wronging his subjects and acting tyrannically. Of course, Theodosius was a Christian, unlike the Castro brothers and their henchmen, so Ambrose had a kind of leverage you can’t ever rely upon. But you do have leverage – una palanca enorme – of your own: eleven million souls who yearn to be free, who will put their bodies at risk, maybe even sacrifice their earthly well-being to ensure freedom for their brethren and their children.

So, Your Eminence, please be our Ambrose. Defend the rights of your flock, who will surely rally to your call, and thank you. In your “dialogue” with the tyrants, please tell them to let your people go, as Moses did to Pharaoh. If you and your clergy were to demand real change, the murderous, soul-crushing regime that has ruled Cuba for fifty-one years would surely collapse in the wink of an eye. You know it. The sainted John-Paul II –he who brought down the Iron Curtain– knows it, in Heaven, along with those two other champions of human rights who grace our history, Fathers Bartolomé de las Casas and Felix Varela. And so do all Cubans, living and dead, saints and sinners alike.

Please be our good shepherd. Stop “dialoguing” with the wolves, and drive them away instead.

Your fellow Cubans,

(cc: His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI)

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