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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/17/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Cuban Catholic church largest, most well-organized group speaking out against communist government

Some see it as a blow to the diversity of opinion in modern Cuban society. Two editors of the outspoken Catholic periodical, Espacio Laical have resigned, citing pressure from the church's hierarchy. The Cuban Catholic Church remains the largest and best organized force on the island with a contrasting ideology apart from the dominant Communist Party.

The magazine, Espacio Laical has a very low press run: just 4,500 issues. The magazine's Internet presence provided a much larger and more active presence

The magazine, Espacio Laical has a very low press run: just 4,500 issues. The magazine's Internet presence provided a much larger and more active presence

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/17/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Espacio Laical, magazine, Cuban Catholic Church, forums, Internet


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The former editors, Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez, had actively used the Internet to promote debate on political issues. Espacio Laical tackled such weighty issues such as the need for a multi-party system, Internet expansion, reintegration with the diaspora and the strengths and weaknesses of reforms under Cuban President Raul Castro.
 
The departure of both Veiga and Gonzalez is seen as a blow to a rare political dialogue being generated inside Cuba. Espacio Laical had provided a rare forum to challenge the ruling Communist Party publicly.
 
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Both men after 10 years on the job. In their resignation letter, the two reiterated that it was due to the pressure from inside the Church hierarchy, from people who did not want the Church to get involved in politics - and not the Cuban government.

Church insiders, along with diplomats now fear that conservative bishops from the Cuban provinces are attempting to reverse the course of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, a moderate who is set to retire soon and who had improved relations with the Cuban state.
 
While Ortega helped open space to criticize the Cuban system, a faction within the Cuban Catholic Church was skeptical about striking a bargain with authorities given their record of past repression.
 
"I hope this doesn't signal a historic mistake by the Church at a critical moment for Cuba," a European ambassador says.
 
Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Havana, Espacio Laical proved highly capable in creating a safe harbor for discussion to Cubans from various political persuasions. The magazine's Internet presence provided forums in Havana that drew a mixed political audience, from government supporters to opponents.
 
Espacio Laical has a very low press run: just 4,500 issues. The magazine's Internet presence provided a much larger and more active presence. Most intellectuals, artists and academics have some access to the Internet while the general population does not.
 
"It's always hard to say, but no one is indispensable," the magazine's recently appointed director, Gustavo Andujar says. "Espacio Laical will continue with a new team."

Espacio Laical and its editors had become more outspoken after the cardinal brokered the 2010 release of most political prisoners and forged a tactical alliance with Castro, supporting his reforms in exchange for more visibility in state media and other minor concessions.
 
In their departure, Veiga and Gonzalez says their work had provoked the ire of those "who think that the Church should not get involved in politics and those who believe that it should not provide space to all actors in Cuban civil society."

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