Catholic archbishop in Cuba criticizes government

08/29/2014 7:54 PM

08/29/2014 8:25 PM

In an unusual gesture for a member high in the Catholic Church’s hierarchy in Cuba, the Apostolic nuncio Bruno Musaro spoke openly about Cuba’s “extreme poverty and human and civil degradation.”

Musaro made his controversial remarks while on vacation in Italy after holding a Mass in the San Pio de Pietrelcina park, in the Italian municipality of Vignacastrisi.

The Cuban people are “victims of a socialist dictatorship that has kept them subjugated for the past 56 years,” Musaro said, according to the Italian newspaper, Lecce News24.

“I’m thankful to the pope for inviting me to this island, and I hope to leave once that the socialist regime has disappeared indefinitely,” said Musaro, a Vatican ambassador living in Cuba since 2011. “Only liberty can bring hope to the Cuban people,” he said.

The Italian newspaper said his remarks were “a cry for help, a call to the weapons of conscience and common sense” made by the diplomatic envoy from the Holy See, who also said regarding Cubans, “The only hope for a better life is to escape the island.”

The monsignor compared the realities of his native Italy and Cuba and warned Italians that they should make note of the fact that “in Cuba, a doctor makes 25 euros a month, and to live with dignity, some professionals go work as waiters during the night.”

“In Cuba, everything is controlled by the state, even milk and meat. Eating lamb is a luxury, and whoever kills one to eat it is arrested and taken to jail,” he said. “Half a century later, and people are still talking about the revolution. It is praised. Meanwhile, people don’t have work and don’t know what to do to feed their own kids,” the archbishop said.

Masuro was born in Andrani in the Lecce region, nearby to Vignacastrisi, where he officiated the Mass. He was named a Vatican representative in Cuba in 2001 after a long career within the Catholic Church.

He was ordained as a priest in 1971 and began his diplomatic service in 1977. He was previously designated apostolic nuncio in other Latin American countries such as Panama (1994), Guatemala (2004) and Perú (2009).

According to a source of the Apostolic branch in Cuba, he is currently “on vacation” in Italy and isn’t expected back until three weeks from now.

The source claimed to be unaware of the comments made by Masuro and denied that his mission in Cuba had ended, although other media outlets suggested it had.

The archbishop’s comments were given in Polish and on Vatican Radio on its website. They were not given in Spanish or in English.

Masuro’s declarations could bring tension to an era in which the Catholic Church has improved its relationship with Raúl Castro’s government.

Monsignor Felix Perez, adjunct secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently told the Italian news agency ANSA that Cuban authorities have approved plans to build two new churches in Santiago de Cuba and Pinar del Río.

The frank nature of Masuro’s criticism contrasts with the caution that high members of the Catholic Church uphold when it comes to topics of politics and social well-being on the island.

The Christian Liberation Movement quickly welcomed the archbishop’s comments.

From Havana, activist Luis Alberto Marino said on Radio Martí that Masuro’s words “give a lot of hope to those of us on the inside and those on the outside who believe that another Cuba is possible.”

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