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Reconciliation worth the wait says archbishop of Havana

HAVANA (Agencies): The archbishop of Havana, Cuba, Jaime Cardinal Ortega, came under fire on April 28 in Boston, the United States of America, for his stand on achieving reconciliation with the government of Rául Castro rather than taking the hard line that many exiles in the US are calling on him to do.

Speaking at a function organised by the Harvard University and the David Rockefeller Centre for Latin American Studies on the Role of the Catholic Church in Cuba, Cardinal Ortega said that he is prepared to wear the criticism and the attacks for the sake of achieving reconciliation.

“I am not going to attack those who think differently, I only want to say that they play a great role, with some taking a great personal risk of being harshly convicted,” CNA quoted the archbishop of Havana as saying.

“We are aware of this and the Church in Cuba and I are attacked in every way possible, but I think that it would be good for there to be a process of reconciliation among Cubans.”

Cardinal Ortega pointed to the exemplary life of recently-deceased Bishop Agustin Roman, the first Cuban appointed as a bishop in the US and founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Miami.

The cardinal said when he first came to Miami in 1995, “Our dear friend, Bishop Roman, who is no longer with us now and who I loved so much as well, took me aside and said, ‘In your speeches, your homilies, you talk about reconciliation. Don’t mention that word in Miami’.”

He continued, “It was hard for me not to, but he knew the situation there better than me. But it is terrible that a bishop, that we, cannot say that word which is ours and belongs to Christianity.”

He then questioned, “But what shall we do? Not say it forever? Wait for better days to come? Or bring about better times so that it is understood that we have to be a reconciled nation?”

He explained that perhaps coming to a realisation of the need for reconciliation takes time and is a sort of martyrdom for all Christians, including himself as pastor, must undergo. “That is what it means to give your life for the sheep,” he said.

“We must endure these sufferings, because there is no resurrection without the cross and I have accepted that I must endure this, and that we must endure this in order to bring about that reconciliation among Cubans,” he concluded.

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