Radio Marti last week published and broadcast an editorial, “The Cardinal’s limits,” that asserted that Cardinal Ortega is involved in “political collusion” (contubernio) with the Cuban government and shows a “lackey attitude” toward it.
The editorial, signed by the station’s director Carlos Garcia, has been removed from the Radio Marti website (it used to be here) but is still circulating on the Internet (here, for example).
Garcia began by writing that the station was “obligated” to give an opinion given the importance of recent comments by Cardinal Ortega and the debate they have caused.
His first complaint was that Cardinal Ortega spoke with “disrespect and arrogance” toward 13 Cubans who occupied a Havana church just before the Pope’s visit in an attempt to pressure the church to get the Pope to see them.
While in Boston recently, Ortega called the group “delinquents” and people of “a low cultural level,” a comment that is certainly fair game for criticism. I don’t know what either of those things, even if true, has to do with their actions. I thought the church was on solid ground in its actions and statements at the time – it heard their grievances and vowed to pass them on, it said they were not welcome to occupy and disrupt a place of worship, and it eventually had them removed.
Garcia’s second complaint is that Cardinal Ortega commented that the late Archbishop Roman of Miami counseled him not to use the word “reconciliation” from the pulpit in Miami, and this somehow “tarnishes the memory” of Archbishop Roman. To me, that sounds like a smart tip. Garcia went on to give his view on reconciliation: “When you concern yourself with your brother giving him food, caring for his health with medicines and caring for his physical and spiritual needs as el exilio does with the needy people of Cuba, it is not necessary to ask for reconciliation.”
Garcia went on to say that “there is no national church” and to explain the hierarchy within the Catholic church.
The kicker: “Please, Cardinal Ortega, be faithful to the gospel you preach.”
From today’s Herald story:
“It is a criticism of the two statements made by the Cardinal,” said García-Pérez, a Cuban-American lawyer. “But more than that, we wanted to explain that there is a hierarchy within the Catholic Church and it’s universal, not national.”
He emphasized the editorial was not removed from the website of Radio and TV Martí in reaction to controversy that had arisen. “It’s not something we want to be pounding all the time, we put it up for two days and then took it down,” he said.
Radio Marti is a U.S. government instrument, part of the Voice of America. It has already given voice to critics of Cardinal Ortega, which is fair, and it’s good journalism because those critics are part of a debate that deserves to be covered.
An editorial in the name of the station is another matter.
Voice of America editorials speak for the U.S. government. Radio Marti editorials aren’t presented that way, but listeners could hardly be blamed if they were to interpret them as speaking for the Obama Administration and wondering why, of all the possible lines of criticism against Cubans who are independent of the government, it chose to voice this one.