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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.

After decades of chilly relations between church and state here, including the near dismantling of Cuba’s Catholic Church in the 1960s, the Castro regime is rolling out the welcome mat for the pope’s visit, even if it is offering no apologies for its past actions.

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“Our country is honored to receive his holiness with Cuban patriotism, learning, vocation, solidarity and humanity,” read a front-page editorial published last week in Granma, the Cuban Communist Party daily newspaper, which on most days offers scathing critiques of life in the United States and glorified recountings of the Cuban revolution.

In the weeks leading up to the pope’s arrival, Cuban church leaders have been given greater freedom to speak publicly. Sites the pope will visit are undergoing hurried beautification. And in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, an altar is being built where the pope will deliver mass to crowds expected to be in the hundreds of thousands.

It’s a marked change from the last (and first) papal visit to Cuba. When Pope John Paul II visited in 1998, the stage was placed off to the side of the square, as if to marginalize his influence. (Some Cubans claimed the aging pontiff was placed in a shadier area as protection from the sun.)

For Pope Benedict, the altar stands in the center of the plaza, the same place where Fidel Castro delivered many of his most incendiary speeches at the height of the Cold War, a point remarked upon by many Havana residents.

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But is the leader of the global Catholic Church receiving more than just lip service from the secular and once officially atheist Cuban state?

The answer is, like nearly all things in Cuba, complex. During John Paul’s visit, he famously called on “Cuba to open to the world and the world to open to Cuba.”

And to some extent, some of those openings have taken place.

The church was considered a threat to the revolution in the days after he took power, Fidel Castro told theologian Frei Betto in the book “Fidel and Religion.”

The Catholic Church, Castro said, was “permeated by reactionary ideas, right wing ideas,” and populated by clergy who “tried to use the church as a weapon, an instrument, against the revolution.”

The church suffered greatly in the backlash, with most of the country’s priests leaving for exile. Religion was transformed into a topic to be discussed in whispers.

But life for Cuba’s Catholics changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the lead-up to John Paul’s visit. Christmas was reinstated as a holiday. Cuba went from being an officially atheist state to a secular one. Cubans were told by their leaders for the first time that they could be both openly religious and members of the Communist Party.

Now it is commonplace to see Cubans wear crucifixes and baptize their children. Church attendance, while still low, has rebounded.

But in spite of those advances, many here feel that John Paul’s call for greater openness has still not been realized.

“Perhaps the church can make a case that it’s looking at this whole thing long-term, by small incremental steps, maybe the church feels it’s moving the regime to a more open stance, more democratic reforms,” said Daniel Alvarez, a Religion Professor at Florida International University.

Outside Havana, a Catholic seminary opened just more than a year ago, the first building Cuba’s government has allowed the church to build since the revolution.

The seminary is home to 50 aspiring priests. They are the future of the Cuban church, says seminary rector Jose Miguel Gonzalez, and symbolize the strides the church has taken here.

“We have to keep progressing without fear, respectfully,” said Gonzalez. ”We have to do it despite few resources, the scarcity of priests, the few institutions we have. We don’t have any schools here, hospitals or means of mass communication.”

The church, Gonzalez said, is increasingly being sought out by once ardent supporters of the revolution.

“We have to open our doors to those people who lost their faith in a system,” he said. “An ideology and a humanism that turned out to be utopian and left them feeling cheated.”

But critics argue that the Catholic Church has more resources and power than any other nongovernmental organization in Cuba and that it uses them far too cautiously.

“In this visit the church, the pope have not made any overtures to the dissidents, a very vocal voice in Cuba,” Alvarez said. “The church has a lot of leverage and in the past has exercised it. What we are we wondering is will this pope take a step in that direction?”

Last week, 13 self-described dissidents occupied a Havana church for three days, refusing to leave until their demands to speak with the pope were met. After failing to negotiate the group’s exit, church leaders called in Cuban police, who removed the occupiers.

On Sunday, mre than 70 women who are members of “the Damas de Blanco” group were also detained before being released. The group – all women – hold weekly silent protests outside a Havana Catholic church asking for greater personal freedoms and the release of jailed family members.

While the state calls the women “mercenaries” in the employ of Washington, their protests usually do not lead to wide-scale police action.

The flurry of arrests were quickly criticized by Cuba’s dissident community and Cuban exiles, many of whom were already dissatisfied with the tone of the pope’s trip

“The church is not lifting a critical, prophetic voice against situations that the whole world sees as oppressive,” Alvarez said. “Why can’t the pope or the church insist there be more opening, more democratic reforms, more freedom for the people?”

It is not known how much the pope, a fierce critic of secularism, will press for greater religious freedom when he addresses the Cuban people and meets with President Raul Castro.

During that private meeting, church officials said, Raul Castro’s family has also been invited and officials anticipate that ex-President Fidel Castro may also be present.

If so, it may mark the first time a pope meets with a current and former leader of a communist state.

During a rare speech on Cuban-state television last week, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino said the pope’s visit is meant to address questions of faith, not politics.

“The pope is determined to revive the faith of Christian countries that need to be re-evangelized,” he said. “The reviving of a sleeping faith, the reviving of a somewhat erased faith but one that was still in the people’s hearts.”

Some of that resurgent faith has been on display in recent weeks, when the Cuban church was allowed by the government to perform the via cruxis, public re-enactments of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

As a cooling breeze blew in from the nearby seafront on Friday in the Havana suburb Alamar, a procession of the faithful carried a wooden Jesus Christ through a maze of crumbling, Soviet-built apartment buildings.

“I am so happy, overjoyed,” Alamar resident Delia Betancourt said. “I never thought my family and I would have the opportunity to see the pope twice in our life. It gives us and all of Cuba great hope.”

Addressing the small crowd that gathered for the evening ceremony, Ortega told them to arrive at Mass at Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución early and to wear a good hat to protect them from Cuba’s blazing sun.

The pope, he told the crowd, was traveling to Cuba to mend wounds from the past.

“He wants to be conciliatory pope,” Ortega told the crowd. “That’s to say a pope who unites people, who is capable of building bridges.”

But building bridges in Cuba, where old divisions still stretch wide, may be a fearsome challenge. Even for a pope.

Patrick Oppmann is CNN’s correspondent based in Havana. He also was in Cuba Pope John Paul II’s visit to the island. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CNN_Oppmann for updates on the Pope’s trip to Cuba.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Cuba • Religious liberty

soundoff (272 Responses)
  1. James Terrracino

    innocent until proven guilty... however you are probably correct, still he deserves a trial before we "burn him in hell with no relief." oh that is God's job not ours...

    March 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  2. † In God We Trust †

    OMG I did not know Atheism was that bad until I read this article. Communist countries = Atheist. YUCK!

    March 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Jim Ryan

      believe in a person god do you – your subscription has just been renewed to the infancy of our species – congratulations

      March 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Mike

      you can be an atheist and anything else you like. you can be an atheist-biologist, atheist-charity worker, atheist-Fortune 500 CEO, and yes even an atheist-dictator/communist if you like. atheism is nothing but the unbelief in the claims of the supernatural. thats it. the catholic church on the other hand, well lets say, it has PLENTY it should beg forgiveness about.

      March 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Big Al

      Communism is a political form. Religion is totally separate. It's possible to be a catholic communist, you just don't mix religion into the running of the country.

      The Catholics in Cuba ran afoul of the government when they tried to claim they were going to charge for education, against the government mandate of free education for all.

      March 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Qubee

      It's amazing how uniformed people are, they keep mixing communism and atheism. Communism or Nazism is a delusional doctrine quite similar to religion. Atheism is not a belief system as such. It's not a dogma like any of the above. Actually, there are no atheists (an atheist means that the is person doesn't believe in God specifically) – just rational people that reject delusional beliefs of any kind. Communists were atheists because it suited their dogma. That doesn't make atheists communists, just like Nazis used Christianity to suit their dogma. That doesn't make Christians Nazis! Does it?

      March 26, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  3. angali baseme

    what is left of the catholic church?

    March 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Jim Ryan

      only the rest of their apologies to humankind

      March 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • James Terrracino

      Come visit us sometime!

      March 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  4. Somalian

    I can't believe this, it is the 21st century and the Pope still has relevance! What has humanity done so wrong?

    March 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Yepp.. at least Christians don't worship a pédophile like fake prophet Muhammed

      March 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Big Al

      Most of the catholic priests are pedophiles!

      March 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Satanluv

      No its all good man....they are happily eating flesh and drinking blood...having young boys kneel in dark closets and telling men in elaborate dresses all their secrets and then letting these same me slip their hosts into their mouths... at the end of the day they jam that big studded candle into the priest RECTORy and then the boys are dropped off at the SEMiNary...I don't see anything wrong there ..do you?

      March 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  5. † In God We Trust †

    God Bless Christians... the only truly religion

    March 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Jim Ryan

      all religions are equally false – because they choose faith over reason – give up your mind for the promise of redemption – it's called a celestial dictatorship – you live in servitude

      March 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • HES

      lol!

      March 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Norberto Storani

      WOW!!!!! have you ever heard of vein considerate of other peoples religions.

      March 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  6. joshporche

    Thank you Julio...good repsonse to martog....for pointing out the Lanciano Miracle... and uncorruptiple bodies.... miracles historically tend to silent critics and there are thousands of more catholic miracles (at Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe..Rwanda...etc etc.) they (thats you martog) usually will ignore it or make believe it didnt really happen or change the subject to something negative......or they can make up an excuse to justify being disobedient. Disobedience is the root of it all in my opinion. People would rather not be obedient to the things Jesus commands us to do. This is hard for christians to follow themselves. The reason is because it would mean leaving the material things and social culture behind, and that would be too much to handle...its much easier to take a short cut if possible. When God ask you to do something..then you do it. When you ask your children to do something you expect them to do it..because you know its for their best interest. You dont need to explain even though you could. You expect the children to do as they are told without questioning. Children often are disobedient as we are often disobedient to God. When we weasle out of doing what God told us to do by inventing a newer or better justification to take the easier route (Just closing your eyes and saying I beleive or dismissing the miraculaous signs from God) then we are rejecting the things Jesus told us to do...e.g. visit those in prison, feed the hungry, forgive sin and not forgive sin (to the apostles), annoint the sick, do not divorce your wife, baptize, ordination (laying on of hands for bishops /presbysters), confirmation (laying on of hands for holy spirit) etc etc. We ignore it, but when we ignore it we must understand we are rejecting it. Some reject out of ignorance, some reject out of hatred, but all rejection is disobedience. Jesus said "bless it is the one who obeys"... but some are indeed obedient and thank God for that. That is why the church has been around for 2000 years.
    What part of "Upon this Rock I will be build my Church" (To Peter) dont you find worthy of obedience. What part of " ...and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" dont you find worthy of obedience...and what part of "..And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.." (still to Peter)..dont yo9u find worthy of obedience.. Its more than obvious that Jesus' church would be the one in actual existence for 2000 years prevailing over the devil's attempt to destroy it, prevailing over inside catholics from destroying it, prevailing in the face of current 2012 communism. Im on the side of a Church founded by Jesus and not a church recently discovered by a man (Joseph Smith, Luther, Islam) with some un vision without proper authority. I trust Jesus not a man’s newly found religion. So if he sent the disciples to establish his church, then we should want to follow his church and be obedient.....as he commanded us to be... Pope Paul once said...…Jesus wants his peace to become your peace. At the same time he continues to speak to you as he spoke to his Apostles: "As the Father sent me, so am I sending you". …you are being sent by Jesus into the world as peacemakers; you are being commissioned to communicate his peace and its power everywhere you go. (Pope John II) ..The bible also says Jesus stated if they reject you then they reject me....That being said..historically Peter is indeed the first pope.... as Peter was commissioned so it was passed on…they always made all the final decisions and final dogmatic statements… so does our current popes. They are not all perfect but then again Jesus said Evil would not prevail, and guess what it has not..the church is still in existence and has been for 2000 years taking care of everyone who is poor sick and lonely. So Jesus was right and not lieing.

    March 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Jim Ryan

      nothing but nonsensical "white noise"

      March 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  7. Mr. Sinner

    Martog, you'd better tell your facts to Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, and Muslems. Go ahead my hero.

    March 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  8. Mr. Sinner

    Cubans maybe atheists, socialists, communists or whatever...but they are not protestants. Who dares say,"I am Mr. Truth, Mr. Right, and Mr. Perfect? Martog, the Mr. Facts, you miss one more solid fact-no one is perfect.

    March 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  9. Caramba

    Hey Fidel, don't let the Devil into Cuba. Kick him out.

    March 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Troll... Report Abuse!

      March 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  10. nofear

    cubans are well-grounded political-philosophy-wise. they are not susceptible to manipulative fear-mongering by global thieves and chalatans. good for them!

    March 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • LaTuya83

      Dumbest post by far, no fear mongering in Cuba, you obviously have never read a page of the Granma newspaper have you? All they do is perpetuate fear and is always the big bad capitalist who are out to harm the Cubans. The world doesn't steal from them just their fearless leaders, the Castros. Please go comment about something you might know about, cause you are obviously cluess as to what goes on in Cuba.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • jo jo

      They live in a fascist state.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • cc

      FYI, politically Cuba may be identified as an atheist state, but in reality it is an official Catholic state. Furthermore, unofficially, over 50% practice something called Santeria. Santeria was brought to Cuba by the Africans and it combines African pagan religions with Christian doctrine. These people are very spiritual and would never consider themselves to be atheists, they are Santerian.

      March 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  11. Brian

    "There are neighborhoods in Seattle where people have less relative wealth. ".............................................This is true of most American cities. There are large areas of Chicago and Memphis where you can not go outside after sunset. You don't see this in the "news" because our journalists are afraid to go there. Some of our Indian reservations are even worse.

    March 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  12. the concern one

    Cuba is criticized because of freedoms. under a socialist state or work under a cooperative, the people decided, what, and how produce. and how the profits are appropriated among the firm. under a capitalist system the board of directors usuallly no more than 20 decide the livelyhood of many. That's different between socialism and capitalism. American and the world are fed up and angry at the current state of the economy because we were close to the brink of the global economic capitalist system but the government came to the rescue. I give capitalism another 50 year to become destructive on family values and moral values, becuase their philosophy is the Darwinism,"Survival of the Fittest", very Christian huh. At least in Socialism, the state can provide health care and other social programs.

    March 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • LaTuya83

      The only problem is that Fidel Castro never asked a single Cuban about anything he was about to do. At least in a capitalist system there's a board in Cuba there's only Fidel or his sister Raul. How people's ingorance shows in these post.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • LaTuya83

      And about your morals argument, if you go to Cuba today I bet you anything you could sleep with pretty much any girl or boy that you like, you just show them the dollars and they'll do anything. And this is very sad for me to admit being a Cuban myself. There are absolutely no morals left in that island it saddens me everytime I go back and see what has happened to a once very proud people.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  13. Jimbo

    Anytime you say cuba and the pope in the same sentence my care factor drops....The pope....Gimme a break!!! The pope is a pathetic old man trying to push some BS fairy tale on the world....and cuba....another worthless mess....
    Maybe now is a good time to flatten cuba....get rid of two useless wastes!

    March 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Jimbo

      This just in...The pope wore a sombrero....BIG DEAL he wear stupid hats everyday!

      March 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Giovannip66

      I am sad to see such display of ignorance. Has this person ever got out of his trailer?

      March 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  14. marsmote

    Finally, we get the communist to talk to the Nazi pope, who is a hat choice away of being in the KKK, to sit down and discuss how many lives they both have ruined. I'd like to be a fly on the wall listening to these 2 complete morons talk. Pope and Cuba can just go away. No one cares!

    March 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • VanHagar

      I'm not Catholic, and frankly, I don't have any interest in what the Pope does, but I do get concerned when people wish minimize the horrors inflicted by the Nazis and the KKK. What proof do you have that the Pope was/is a Nazi–the fact that he's German? As for the KKK reference, you do know that, historically, the KKK rejected Catholicism too? By joining the Pope to these parties, you reject their absolutely vile nature: Do you honestly believe that this Pope would be complicit in the deaths of 6 million people? That he would approve of lynchings?

      March 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  15. Austin Hager

    I just came back from cuba about a month ago, it is very Catholic. I don't know why they are making this into a big deal, the government doesn't necessarily condone religion nor does it condone atheism. Cuba is NOT communist is it socialist. Every house I went in had some form of Catholocism in it. Additionally, Cuba is not as poor as people make it out to be. There are neighborhoods in Seattle where people have less relative wealth. There is not a single homeless person in Cuba and many people have more expensive phones than me.

    March 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Philip James

      You need to be Cuban, and live in Cuba before you make comments such as these.

      March 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Whatever

      You are trying to stifle discussion, limit it to only Cubans living in Cuba? That's pretty stupid, Philip

      March 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Translation88

      I'm sure that what you didn't see were the people being oppressed in almost every way imaginable, nor did you see the "libreta" people receive instructing them on how much food they can receive per household, nor did you see the people struggling to feed their family on said allowance being forced to sell food on the black market, and then being imprisoned or fined for doing so. Did you see the markets full of meat, produce, and dairy products all with american dollar prices? Did you see the rundown homes the government provides their citizens, or the homes without hot water, or running water for that matter? Of course not you went as a tourist, staying in the hotels, staying in the areas that the Cuban government allows tourist to visit.

      Oh and don't let the illusion of "free universal healthcare" affect your opinion, the hospitals are also run down and lack the basics such as cleaning supplies, medication, and working bathrooms, while tourist like Mexican nationals and others get gold star treatment at hospitals set up specifically for them.

      Yes, until you've lived in Cuba as a Cuban citizen then you shouldn't offer an opinion on the current situation in Cuba.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • jo jo

      Ask around Cuba and see how many people Fidel killed. People disappear all the time.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • LaTuya83

      Thank you Translation these people have no idea what they are talking about. And the guy that went to Cuba doesn't realize that he only saw what they wanted him to see not the true reality. On another note people from Seattle have a choice to go to school get an education and better their lives, in Cuba a regular doctor that spent well over 20 years of his life going to school to get his degree is better off driving a taxi and earning in dollars than practicing as a doctor. What's the point of all that free education when you can't use it.

      March 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  16. james hotz

    Maybe Castro wants to confess he hired Oswald to shoot JFK.

    March 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  17. martog

    1. You believe that the pope has personal conversations with God (that nobody else ever hears) and is infallible when speaking on matters of Church doctrine. You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it (or, more accurately, so watered it down as effectively eradicate it in a face saving way). Seems all those earlier “infallible” Popes were wrong – as they were on Adam and Eve v. evolution, heliocentricity v. egocentricity, and a host of other issues that required an amendment of official Church doctrine. You also ignore the innumerable murders, rampant corruption and other crimes committed over the centuries by your “infallible”, god-conversing popes.
    2. You reject the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours. You are blissfully (or intentionally) blind to the fact, that had you been born in another part of the World, you would be defending the local god(s) and disdaining the incorrectness of Catholic beliefs.
    3. You begrudgingly accept evolution (about a century after Darwin proved it and after accepting Genesis as literally true for about 2,000 years) and that Adam and Eve was totally made up, but then conveniently ignore that fact that your justification for Jesus dying on the cross (to save us from Original Sin) has therefore been eviscerated. Official Church literature still dictates a belief in this nonsense.
    4. You disdain native beliefs as “polytheist” and somehow “inferior” but cannot explain (i) why being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic. Once you make the quantum leap into Wonderland by believing in sky-fairies, what difference does if make if you believe in one or many?; nor (ii) why Christians believe they are monotheistic, given that they believe in god, the devil, guardian angels, the holy spirit, Jesus, many demons in hell, the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel, thousands of saints, all of whom apparently make Earthly appearances periodically, and all of whom inhabit their life-after-death lands with magic-sacred powers of some kind.
    5. You bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees or the 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf (or the dozen or so other slaughters condoned by the bible). You also like to look to god to for guidance in raising your children, ignoring the fact that he drowned his own – according to your Bible.
    6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that God impregnated Mary with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to “forgive” an ”Original Sin” that we now all know never happened.
    7. You disdain gays as sinners, but have no problem when Lot got drunk and committed father-daughter in.cest (twice) or offered his daughters to a mob to be gang ra.ped, or when Moses, time and again, offered his wife up for the “pleasures” of the Egyptians to save his own skin.
    8. You believe that your god will cause anyone who does not accept your Bronze Age stories to suffer a penalty an infinite times worse than the death penalty (burning forever in excruciating torture) simply because of their healthy skepticism, yet maintain that god “loves them”.
    9. You will totally reject any scientific breakthrough that is inconsistent with your established doctrine, unless and until it is so generally accepted as to back you into a corner. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you of the deep inanity of your silly faith, some priest doing magic hand signals over bread and wine is enough to convince you it is thereby transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus because of the priest’s magic powers (or “sacred powers” to the extent you see a difference).
    10. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to Lourdes, Fátima and other magic places and prayers in general. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. The remaining 99.99% failure was simply “god moving in mysterious ways”. The fact that, if you ask for something repeatedly, over and over, year after year, sooner or later that thing is bound to happen anyway, has not even occurred to you. A stopped clock is right twice a day.
    11. You accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them, how credible these people were or how long the stories were written after the alleged events they record occurred. For example, it is impossible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Old Testament, as Catholics believe. For one, they record his death and events after his death. In fact, the chance of the Bible being historically accurate in any but the broadest terms is vanishingly small.
    Heavens, I could not fit them into ten. Maybe, if they pray hard enough to their sky-fairy, the Catholics can turn them into 10

    March 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      and you are 100% useless.....I will take the 0.01%

      March 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Julio

      Well certainly you hate the catholic church and I will not convince you of anything in any way, but at least let me tell you that I used to hate it as much, but we change along our lives and that is my case for the good. And not everything you get told in the media is truth, and the good things never get mentioned, but i bet you've heard that one before...
      All I will say since you seem to be a person of "facts", search for the investigation on the Lanciano Miracle, also on the saints incorruptible bodies...
      Regards

      March 26, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Miguel

      Take a chill pill Martog. There are a lot of good people in the world that believe in Jesus, and there are a lot of good Catholics. It may not fit into your world view, and for you, it does not scientifically work. Perhaps it is clear as day to you how "everybody" else is wrong. But some really good people don't see it your way. So why do you have so much hate in your heart? Sure, there are some bad people in the church and there are bad people in history. That is true for any group. Let go of the hate. You don't have to embrace Jesus or anybody else, but the world is so much better without hate.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • martog

      Blahblahblah...you can't refute one thing I posted so you say I'm full of hate and 100% useless and on and on. Try using a little logic and reason and stop beleiving in Bronze age nonsense. How about praying for the Pope to sell all his riches and give it to the poor? Yea,,,,,,let's see how that works out.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • jo jo

      Can you just cut to the chase.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Miguel

      Martog – I could care less about the pope or the Catholic church. It's just not good to be a hater. Too many people go onto these blogs and just spew emotional rants. What's the point? Do people change their mind? Do you really feel better? Well, I suppose if you feel better then it makes sense. I'm not sure I see the point in anybody (pro-Catholic or anti-Catholic) working up their blood pressure on any of these issues. Can anybody change your mind? No. Can you change other people's minds? Likely not, especially with aggresive statements. But I suppose that is just the nature of these story comments. People get all excited and see it as an opportunity to speak their mind. Even my statements have no purpose. I will not convince you or anybody else. Why am I even saying any of this? I'm speaking to a machine. I have work to do.

      March 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • martog

      Miguel, You can call it spew, but it's still facts. The Vatican calls for charity and helping the poor. Yet they cover up pedophiles, deny birth control, and it is one of the richest cities on the planet. Supposedly your Jesus gave up all his wordly goods to help the poor. What has the Pope given up lately? A Cappuccino?(or however it's spelled). When religion ruled the world we call it the Dark Ages......ever stop to wonder why?

      March 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Anav

      @ Martog

      RE: "You believe that the pope has personal conversations with God (that nobody else ever hears) and is infallible when speaking on matters of Church doctrine. "

      Papal infallibility doesn't refer to the pope conversing with God; it refers to when the pope, exercising his teaching authority, solemly defines a matter pertaining to faith and morals (that meets *all* of the conditions outlined below), is preserved from error by the Holy Spirit:

      1. He is speaking in a magisterial way from the Chair of St. Peter, i.e. in his capacity as head of the Church (as opposed to, for instance, speaking as an interviewee)
      2. He is addressing the universal Church (as opposed to addressing only one segment of the Church, e.g. only bishops; only the Latin Rite, etc)
      3. He is doctrinally formulating a matter concerning faith or morals
      4. He is binding the universal church to his pronouncement

      "You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it [...] "

      Limbo was never a doctrine of the Catholic Church, it is a once predominant theological theory about the state in which those those who died unbaptized, through no fault of their own, exist (a state of natural happiness). There are matters in the Church (e.g. whether there are animals in heaven) with regards to which Catholics may licitly disagree about since these matters have not been settled in doctrinal or dogmatic fashion by either the ordinary universal magisterium or extraordinary magisterium of the Church.

      March 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hmm. Are there many atheists in Cuba? I doubt it. Why is it so poor, then?

      March 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Julio

      Seriously, there's a lot of atheism in cuba, that's what the old comunism tried, removing all religion, under the motto " religion is the opium that nums mases", for many years religious people had to hide their beliefs.
      But history repeats itself many times, the rest of the world also wants to live without a God for our own perdition

      March 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      March 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      like rain dances change the weather

      March 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Jimbo

      NO Prayer changes nothing you pathetic loser....Get a grip!

      March 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • jo jo

      like what?

      March 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  19. Jose Perez

    When will the Tirany dictatoship end? He has killed, tortured and improsidne the Cuban population. The Pope should call out the puppet Cardinal they have in place that goes along with those murderers.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Ximena

      Thank you!!!! Nothing but the truth stated and I am a Latina but not Cuban.

      March 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  20. nik green

    Do you criticize Cuba because its communist and run by a dictator? They're small and can be easily stomped by the US embargo.

    Do you criticize China because they are a communist nation and run by a group of self appointed thugs? They're large, so they have MFN trading status with the US... the opposite of the embargo. Do you shop at Walmart, or buy goods imported from China made by child labor slaves, paid next to nothing and working under virtual gunpoint? Do you still criticize China?

    How many hypocrites are reading this? I am a hypocrite too, because I am writing this on an Apple laptop.... I guess most of us have no choice... windows machines are also assembled in communist-fascist-capitalist China.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • David

      Cuba is criticized due to proximity. That is the primary issue.

      March 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • donquijte56

      That Cuba is criticized because of its proximity is only part of the story. When Batista and his cronies fled the island they emptied the banks and stole the country's riches. They established a power base in Florida and since then have had an obscene influence over the US inane and ineffective policy towards Cuba. The embargo has only enriched these same people while helping perpetuate the Castro regime.

      March 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • chemistphil

      sorry friend, your mac is chinese too :(... so sad to think we don't make anything in america anymore

      March 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.