Thursday, January 3, 2008

Church and State: Cuban Style

My grandfather, who died at a ripe old age in Cuba, refused the opportunity to come to the United States not once, but twice, saying "I helped this cabron into power and I'll help take him down." Foresight does not seem to have been one of Abuelo's strong suits. Anyway, one of the things he did for the revolution was run guns around the island, guns he kept with the full knowledge of the parish priest under the altar at the local church. This worthy was then rewarded by the victorious rebels by essentially being put out of business.

I am reminded of the story because of the uneasy, yet complicit relationship between creeds and the coma andante. Part of me wants to rail at the Vatican #2 visiting Havana and wanting to meet Raul. It smacks too much of lending the regime countenance. I had similar problems with the visit of John Paul II. However in that instance, I knew John Paul to be anticommunist. Further, the late pontiff had the ability to extend a hand, while at the same time somehow loosening the bonds of power. I may not have liked it, but Cuba loosened its grip on the Church somewhat. Reading the news lately, it may have been a devil's bargain, as the now legal Catholic church comes across as a might timid.

That timidity pales in comparison to this year's pronouncement by the babalaos, or santeria "priests." What do they predict in the midst of the "transition"? Well, as they put it, it's not a social challenge, it's not a political challenge, its.......Global Warming. Okay, so I exaggerated. For the Reuters article, go here.

When I am in a reasonable frame of mind, I remember "render unto Caesar," etc.... I don't believe the Church belongs in politics. It should be separated from the state. There is something to be said for keeping one's mouth shut in order to be there for adherents. But there is a fine line between rising above temporal matters and ministering to the spiritual needs of one's flock in confidence and cowering in fear before a totalitarian government.

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