“The violent and tragic events that led to the sinking of a ship where many of our brothers lost their lives are, according to survivor accounts, of a rawness that can hardly be imagined. The sinking of the boat, which was also carrying women and children, and the difficulties of the rescue of the survivors do not seem in any way to be by chance, and this adds to the pain a sense of stupor and a demand of transparency and those responsible identified." […] That the facts are clarified, to establish the truth with justice, but that hate result the loser ... Love and justice are not opposed, but hatred and injustice can go hand in hand."
- Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, in July 1994 speaks on "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre
Fifty years of totalitarianism preceded by seven years of an authoritarian left-wing dictatorship have left profound scars on
The Catholic Church in
One can disagree with specific actions of the Catholic Church in
The Cuban Catholic Church is not perfect, no institution composed of human beings can be, but over the past fifty years it has stood up time and time again for the dignity of the Cuban people and paid for it with prison, exile, and repression. The Church is not a political organization nor should it be held to political standards. Its purpose is to spread the message of Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life for those who follow his path, and to alleviate human suffering.
That said the Church does have a profound impact on political life, despite its apolitical nature, and it has steadfastly opposed worldwide all economic sanctions that impact entire populations. This is a different position than that taken by the dictatorship in
Sanctions, in the forms prescribed by the contemporary international order, seek to correct the behavior of the government of a country that violates the rules of peaceful and ordered international coexistence or that practices serious forms of oppression with regard to its population. The purpose of these sanctions must be clearly defined and the measures adopted must from time to time be objectively evaluated by the competent bodies of the international community as to their effectiveness and their real impact on the civilian population. The true objective of such measures is open to the way to negotiation and dialogue. Sanctions must never be used as a means for the direct punishment of an entire population: it is not licit that entire populations, and above all their most vulnerable members, be made to suffer because of such sanctions. Economic sanctions in particular are an instrument to be used with great discernment and must be subjected to strict legal and ethical criteria. An economic embargo must be of limited duration and cannot be justified when the resulting effects are indiscriminate.
The Holy See is opposed to unilateral sanctions in principle and argues against international sanctions that target entire populations. Its opposition to US sanctions on the Cuban dictatorship is not a special case, but one of many. Nevertheless, there is a reasonable case to be made on behalf of economic sanctions on the Cuban regime.
First, the Castro regime since 1959 has violated the rules of peaceful and ordered co-existence with its attempts to subvert other governments sponsoring and training guerrillas and terrorists around the world. The Tricontinental meetings in
On the other hand the economic sanctions placed on
The greatest argument against economic sanctions on
Finally, the greatest argument in favor of maintaining economic sanctions on the Cuban dictatorship is what has happened in
The issue of economic sanctions is part of an overall debate and dialogue on how best to achieve a non-violent democratic transition in
The Catholic Church, although not a political entity, has offered its services as a mediator and has a positive track record around the world and has now facilitated the transfer of 26 prisoner of conscience rotting in Cuban prisons for over seven years into exile. Is this a victory of the opposition? Yes, it is. Did the dictatorship prefer dealing with the Church than recognize the opposition? Yes. Without the Church’s participation there were only two options open: keep the prisoners locked up and continue beating up the Ladies in White or engage the opposition. The record over the past 50 years is that the regime would let the prisoners rot and would continue to terrorize the women in
The Church intervened on Reina's behalf and today after many months she was a able to march without a mob of government agents blocking her path to attend mass and visit her son's grave. Reina Luisa Tamayo gave thanks today to the Catholic Church's intervention on her behalf.
When the opposition makes the case for these prisoners of conscience to be freed in their homeland and not exiled they are engaged in a sacred duty of the opposition, but that does not necessitate attacking or defaming the Cuban Catholic Church. You can disagree with specific actions without demonizing the institution, and engage it in dialogue to try to persuade it.
 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Catholic Church. Pontificium Consilium de Iustitia et Pace Compendium of the social doctrine of the church Chapter 11 The Promotion of Peace. 507d. Measures against those who threaten peace.