Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Church conference this week (Corrected)

Cuba’s Catholic Church has been in the headlines for its efforts regarding political prisoners (AP story here), but an event beginning in Havana today shows another interesting aspect of the Church’s activity.

This is the week of the Semana Social. I’m told that this conference, involving clergy and laity, usually involves a discussion of the Church’s social and pastoral work.

This week, it is taking place as the Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, visits Cuba to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Cuba’s diplomatic relations with the Holy See. (Today’s AP story here.)

Unlike on past occasions, the conference agenda “includes issues that go beyond Church questions, such as the economy, migration and the relations between Cubans at home and abroad,” as IPS reports here. For the first time it is being opened to non-Catholics. Several professors from the University of Havana will participate, as will prominent Cuban American scholars. And it will kick off in a space provided by the government, the Aula Magna ceremonial lecture hall of the University of Havana. (Correction: It's at the lecture hall of the University's Colegio San Geronimo. Full program here.)

Aurelio Alonso, a Cuban participant, is interviewed here in La Jornada.

Arturo Lopez Levy, a Cuban who formerly belonged to and worked at the Jewish synagogue in Vedado and now studies and teaches in Colorado, is also participating. He wrote an article on reconciliation among Cubans; it was published in the Havana Archdiocese publication Espacio Laical and he kindly sent an English version, which I’m publishing here (pdf). Reading it, I realize it has ideas and formulations that probably challenge and displease just about all of us in this debate, which is why it’s worth reading.

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