Havana, Cuba, Apr 23, 2019 / 03:05 pm (CNA).- While recent policy changes in the U.S. have left the people of Cuba facing increasing uncertainty, the message of the Catholic Church is always that security is ultimately found in Christ, said a priest from the island nation.
“This is the task of the Church: to say that salvation is found only is Jesus, who gives concrete, precise answers to the person seeking the truth,” said Fr. Yosvany Carvajal, pastor of the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Havana and director of the Father Felix Varela Cultural Center.
“Ideologies don't save people, ideologies are ideas. They are a body of ideas that exist in various political systems; but man's definitive salvation is found only in that true man and true God who has come to speak to us of an everlasting love that saves,” the priest told Vatican News April 21.
He highlighted the participation of the faithful in the Holy Week celebrations, saying that although the Church in Cuba is poor, it is “a living Church” with hope in “the Risen One who has conquered death, sin and evil.”
Religious celebrations were publicly banned in Cuba after the triumph of Fidel Castro's revolution. However, Christmas became a holiday beginning in 1997, as a concession to the request by Saint John Paul II before his visit in January 1998.
Likewise, during his visit to Cuba in March 2012, Benedict XVI made the same request for Good Friday. The communist government allowed its celebration as an exception in 2012 and 2013, and made it an official holiday beginning in 2014.
Carvajal said the faith of the Cuban people can be seen particularly clearly during Holy Week.
“Signs of Christianity are seen everywhere, and also popular religiosity. You can see that all this is alive, present in the people,” the priest said. He pointed to the high participation in Good Friday services as a sign that the people desire to be close to Christ in his Church.
The Cuban priest also said the Church in the country “is a Church that accompanies the people, which is suffering, especially these days due to the embargo policy.”
Last week, the Trump administration announced new penalties and tighter sanctions on Cuba. Among the new policies is the activation of a previously unused provision allowing U.S. citizens to sue foreign companies that operate on property confiscated by the government following the Castro revolution.
As a result of this, Carvajal said, “the population is going through hard times because they don't know what is going to happen.”
“The economic situation is not easy, but the Cuban people are a joyful people,” he said, and they never lose “the sense of the joy of living.”
He recalled the visits that Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis made to Cuba, which “helped greatly the Church to not be afraid.”
“The people now find themselves in this difficult situation following the measures announced by the U.S. Government. There is concern,” he noted. “But with the message of the Gospel we must always announce the joy and hope of the definitive triumph of Christ. We must always continue on this path of announcing reconciliation and dialogue as the only possible way of seeking the true good.”
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
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