Good news for Cuba and for Cubans in and out of the Catholic Church: When Cardinal Jaime Ortega tendered his resignation letter in Rome (having reached the mandatory retirement age of 75), Pope Benedict XVI apparently set it aside and told him to stay where he is, and to continue doing what he is doing.
In recent years the contact between the Church and the Cuban government has been different than before. It is occurring at a high level, often between the Cardinal and the President. It is far from resolving longstanding Church requests for parochial schools and broadcast media. But it is treating matters of Cuban domestic policy in a way that has not occurred before, and Fidel’s old practice of largely going over the local Church’s head in favor of direct Fidel-to-Vatican communication seems to have ended.
Whether this is due to chemistry between the interlocutors or necessity on one or both sides, is not known. But it is good for Cuba, and it seems to have been instrumental in the release of 130 prisoners, including those who remained in jail from the 75 arrested in 2003.
About that dialogue, Ortega said it will continue and he stressed the current debate over economic policies, a matter on which Archdiocesan publications are making good contributions. From his remarks Friday: “There is always a dialogue about the role of the Church with its pastoral activities and about the life of the nation under the economic changes planned for Cuba, changes that society is waiting for, that every Cuban hopes for, and that the Church has also encouraged, supported, and wished for.”