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Priest decries lack of religious freedom in Cuba

Priest decries lack of religious freedom in Cuba

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By CNA Staff

CNA Newsroom, Dec 15, 2022 / 13:06 pm (CNA).

Father Alberto Reyes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Camagüey, Cuba, charged that there is no religious freedom in the country, since the Office of Religious Affairs controls the practice of the faith and oversees “every movement of the Church.”

In a Dec. 14 Facebook post, the priest pointed out that religious freedom “is not reduced to believers being able to meet in our churches to worship the God who brings us together” but also entails a series of rights that the Church cannot exercise in Cuba.

One of these rights, he said, is the freedom of expression for the members of the Church, since the Office of Religious Affairs of the communist regime constantly calls the bishops and superiors of the congregations “when what a priest or religious says or does bothers them.”

The objective of this office, he pointed out, is “to try to make (the bishops or superiors) the ones who ‘get the priest or religious in line’ while those who are really behind it remain with clean hands.”

“If in my land there were religious freedom,” he added, “the churches would have access to social media, and we could offer our radio and television programs, to make known through them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which we consider the best program of life that exists.”

In his post, the priest recalled that in Cuba the Church is also prohibited from “participating in the educational system and intervening in the formation of the new generations,” so it cannot establish “its own schools that allow parents to choose the education they wish for their children, according to their faith, their beliefs, and their values.”

“If there were religious freedom in my land, the churches would have access to the health system, being able to offer the population more alternatives for health care,” he said.

Reyes also said that if religious freedom existed in Cuba, “we would not have to depend on permits to publicly manifest our faith, and we could plan and call public Masses, processions, Stations of the Cross in the streets, Christmas parades … just by informing authorities on the use of public spaces.”

In addition, “the construction of churches would be allowed in those places where there are established Christian communities that, in the absence of a church, have to meet in private homes,” and damaged or destroyed churches could be restored “with a simple reconstruction procedure” and not have to undergo “a long process of authorizations that can last years.”

“If there were religious freedom in my land, the official registration of new Christian denominations that want to exercise their right to evangelize in Cuba would be allowed,” and “Christians whose thinking is different from the official government discourse would not be prevented from participating in religious celebrations,” he pointed out.

The priest charged that in Cuba, “laity, religious, and priests who express opinions different from those of the government” are continually harassed with “warning calls” from the authorities.

“If there were religious freedom in my land, priests, men and women religious, and laymen would not be accused or denigrated who, moved by their faith, raise their voices, exercising their baptismal identity as prophets, to denounce social injustices and who seek to accompany to those who are victims of these injustices.”

Reyes ended his post by noting that all these rights could be exercised “if there were religious freedom in my land… but there isn’t.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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