Cuba and Catholicism and the post-Castro period – where to now?

Cuba and the post-Fidel Castro Catholic church could begin a new relationship.

The late Cuban leader had a volatile connection with the Catholic church.

Major changes to Cuba’s one-party Communist system are predicted.

Castro’s brother, Raul, has led Cuba since 2006 when illness forced Fidel to retire.

He has released dozens of political prisoners under deals with the United States and the Roman Catholic Church.

Although Raul Castro has done little more for Catholics, Enrique Pumar, says Fidels’s death could encourage the church to take a more proactive role in Cuba.

Pumar is head of the Sociology Department at Catholic University of America and has studied the Catholic Church in Cuba.

This is definitely an opportunity,” Pumar said.

“Raúl is going to be more open to the church. But this is going to happen gradually. That’s the way change takes place in Cuba.”

Another commentator, Ted Henken, who is a Baruch College Latino studies professor  and Cuba scholar says church leaders could now “hope to reap further gains in a post-Fidel Cuba.

“The Catholic Church has very wisely — politically, strategically — positioned itself for this day,” he said.

Pumar says the church could push for parochial schools to be more accepted in Cuba. At present they are restricted.

The church could also actively participate in brokering discussions between civil society and state leaders, he said.

“A lot of people recognize this is not going to be settled on any battleground,” Pumar said. “There has to be some form of conversation and negotiation.”


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