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January 23rd, 2013
05:27 AM ET

Cubans pray for a Chavez recovery

Reliant on Venezuelan oil, Cubans worry how Hugo Chavez's health will affect the country. Patrick Oppmann reports.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Cuba • Prayer

My Take: Cuban cars, Santeria, and the spirit of improvisation
A Santeria oricha, similar to a saint, in Trinidad, Cuba.
June 9th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

My Take: Cuban cars, Santeria, and the spirit of improvisation

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) – On a recent trip to Cuba, I was surprised to see so many classic cars. I knew Havana was famous for its 1950s Fords, Chevrolets, and Oldsmobiles, but I had no idea how prevalent “cacharros” were in small towns and big cities alike.

When I asked a friend, the proud owner of a 1953 Ford, how Cubans kept all these cars running, he told me that they make things up as they go along. But this spirit of improvisation isn’t limited to adapting blender parts for your Mercedes-Benz engine. It’s evident in Cuban music, the Cuban economy and the Cuban-born religion of Santeria.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Cuba • Virgin Mary

March 28th, 2012
01:20 PM ET

Pope extols Christ, not politics, at Cuba Mass

From Mariano Castillo and David Ariosto, CNN

Havana, Cuba (CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI spoke in general terms, saying "Cuba and the world need change," but steered clear of political statements during a Mass he celebrated in Havana's Revolution Plaza on Wednesday.

The pope said that such change can come only if "each one is prepared to ask for the truth and if they decide to take the path of love, sowing reconciliation and brotherhood."

Earlier in his trip, the pontiff had prayed for "those deprived of freedom" and told reporters that Cuba's Marxist political system "no longer corresponds to reality."

Many in Cuba and around the world listened closely to the pope's homily at the enormous open-air Mass to see if the pontiff would expand or be more forceful in his apparent criticisms.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Cuba • Pope Benedict XVI

March 28th, 2012
11:32 AM ET

Seminary is Cuba’s first Catholic building since revolution

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

Havana, Cuba (CNN) – Driving out of Havana on the four-lane and mostly empty Carretera Central, it’s easy to miss the future of the Catholic Church in Cuba.

But on the left hand side of the highway is the San Carlos and Ambrosio Seminary, looking more like one of the many sprawling Spanish resort hotels that dot the Caribbean island.

“We are shaping Cuba’s priests of tomorrow here,” said the Rev. Jose Miguel Gonzalez, the seminary’s rector and a Spanish priest, who has worked in Cuba for 12 years.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Cuba

Pope Benedict XVI visits Cuba
March 27th, 2012
01:41 PM ET

Gallery: Pope's trip to Cuba

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Cuba

Once in a Castro labor camp, now Cuba's cardinal
Cardinal Jaime Ortega has won respect for gaining reforms in Cuba, but he still has his critics, who say he hasn't done enough.
March 27th, 2012
12:59 PM ET

Once in a Castro labor camp, now Cuba's cardinal

By David Ariosto, CNN

Havana, Cuba (CNN) – Not long after Fidel Castro and his bearded band of guerilla fighters rolled into Havana in 1959, conditions appeared so dire for the island’s Catholic clergymen that their cardinal fled to Argentina’s Embassy seeking political asylum.

Manuel Arteaga died in 1963 from illness while still in Cuba, and for more than three decades the island would officially remain an atheist state. Castro’s communist revolution endeavored to rid the country of its religious influence, confiscating church property and expelling or oppressing religious workers.

A young priest named Jaime Ortega, who would one day become the nation’s cardinal, was among them. In 1966, the Cuban government sent him to a military work camp for several months.

Today, the 75-year-old cardinal heads the island’s Roman Catholic Church, thrust into the spotlight perhaps more than ever with Pope Benedict XVI's visit this week to Cuba.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Cuba • Pope Benedict XVI

March 27th, 2012
10:45 AM ET

The pope, political prisoners and Cuba

(CNN)–Pope Benedict XVI visits Cuba following the Vatican-brokered release of political prisoners. CNN's Patrick Oppmann reports.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Cuba • Faith Now • Politics • Pope Benedict XVI

Papal visit to Cuba spurs talk of jailed U.S. contractor
Alan Gross with his wife Judy Gross.
March 27th, 2012
08:35 AM ET

Papal visit to Cuba spurs talk of jailed U.S. contractor

By David Ariosto, CNN

Havana, Cuba (CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Cuba this week, forging inroads with the Castro government and ultimately helping to bring about the release of a jailed American contractor. At least, that's how Judy Gross would like to see this week's papal visit play out.

"I hope it's very likely," she told CNN's Erin Burnett on Friday.

Her husband, Alan Gross, is in prison outside the Cuban capital on subversion charges. He was arrested on December 3, 2009, for distributing what officials described as sensitive communications equipment to the island's small Jewish community.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Cuba • Judaism • Pope Benedict XVI

March 26th, 2012
09:52 AM ET

Pope heads to Cuba after Mexico visit

By David Ariosto, CNN

Havana, Cuba (CNN) - Pope Benedict heads to Cuba on Monday on the second leg of a tour he's using not just to spread the faith but to address political issues.

Benedict will arrive at the island nation from Mexico, where he denounced drug wars and violence Friday in a visit scheduled just months ahead of its presidential elections. He also blasted Cuba's Marxist political system, saying it "no longer corresponds to reality."

The pope's comments, delivered to reporters aboard a flight from Rome to Mexico, sparked speculation over what he will say once he addresses the Cuban people directly.

Read the full story on Pope Benedict's trip to Cuba
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Americas • Belief • Catholic Church • Cuba • Pope Benedict XVI

Rolling out welcome mat for pope, Cuba continues complex relationship with Catholic Church
A poster of Pope Benedict XVI in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion, where he will celebrate Mass amid icons of Cuban communism.
March 24th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Rolling out welcome mat for pope, Cuba continues complex relationship with Catholic Church

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

Santiago, Cuba (CNN) - Facing the stage where Pope Benedict XVI will deliver his first Mass in Cuba during his visit here this week is a giant neon billboard of a young and victorious Fidel Castro brandishing a rifle.

It would appear to be a poor omen for the pope’s visit, if not for the message printed beside the Cuban leader: “Rebels yesterday, hospitable today, always heroic.” It’s the slogan for Santiago de Cuba, the first stop on the pope’s three-day trip to the island nation.

The freshly erected sign offers insight into the changing, often hard to read, relationship between the Cuban government and the Catholic Church.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Cuba • Religious liberty

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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