Cable sobre la visita a Cuba de Bertone

Comunicación en la que se describe la decepción por el viaje del secretario de Estado del Vaticano

ID:145976
Date:2008-03-14 18:08:00
Origin:08HAVANA245
Source:US Interests Section Havana
Classification:CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:08VATICAN31
Destination:VZCZCXRO5568
PP RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL
RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHUB #0245/01 0741808
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141808Z MAR 08
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3030
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0149
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000245

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2013
TAGS: CU, PGOV, PHUM, PINR, PREL
SUBJECT: BERTONE VISIT GENERATES BROAD DISAPPOINTMENT

REF: VATICAN 0031

HAVANA 00000245 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: DCM Buddy Williams for reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: The visit to Cuba of Vatican Secretary of
State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was considered a
disappointment by everyone USINT has spoken with, though
presumably not by the GOC itself. In a subsequent meeting
with the COM, the Nuncio seemed especially disappointed. But
even normally cautious Cardinal Jaime Ortega cited several
serious problems with the visit. Nevertheless, the visit
probably achieved the Church's principal objective of
preserving, and even expanding slightly, its space on the
island. Cardinal Ortega is now focusing his attention on
convincing the Vatican that a papal visit in January 2009
would be a good idea. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) The February 20-26 visit to Cuba of Vatican Secretary
of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone had been planned for
months to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the visit to
Cuba of Pope John Paul II. The visit included the dedication
of a monument to the papal visit that was erected on the site
of the papal mass celebrated during the 1998 visit in the
central Cuban city of Villa Clara. By coincidence, Bertone's
visit began just as the Cuban National Assembly was electing
Raul Castro president of the Council of State in place of his
brother Fidel, who had withdrawn from consideration for the
post the week before for health reasons. Thus, Cardinal
Bertone became the first official outside visitor to the new
Raul Castro-led Cuba. With that role in mind, the Bertone
visit was an especially inauspicious event.

3. (C) Given the care with which the Church in Cuba
approaches its relations with the regime, we did not expect
Bertone to go beyond very circumspect diplomatic language.
Instead, at a MINREX-sponsored press event he attacked U.S.
policy towards Cuba, calling the embargo "ethically
unacceptable and an oppression of the Cuban people." He also
lent his support to the GOC proposal to swap political
prisoners for five Cuban spies held in the U.S., implicitly
equating the convicted spies with prisoners of conscience.
He further criticized the U.S. for the way its policies
affected family reunification, but made no mention of
restrictions placed on family reunification of its own
citizens by the Government of Cuba itself.

4. (C) Bertone's willingness to join with the GOC in bashing
U.S. policy prompted one Cuban to comment to his parish
priest that the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) would soon be
issuing him a membership card. Many Cubans with whom we have
spoken expressed similar or stronger levels of disappointment
with the visit. Especially among practicing Catholic
faithful, Bertone's visit had been anticipated as an
opportunity to renew the spirit of hope that had come from
Pope John Paul II's 1998 visit, and give a voice to the
rising and unfulfilled expectations of the Cuban people to
which the Cuban bishops had referred clearly in their
Christmas message. Those in and around Havana complained
specifically about the heavy police presence at Cardinal
Bertone's mass at the Havana cathedral that seemed designed
to exclude the rank and file faithful. Those excluded were
relegated to viewing the mass on television (the broadcast of
which was considered a success of the visit by the local
church) where they could see the pews filled with foreign
diplomats (though not from USINT, we were not invited),
government officials, and members of the nomenklatura who
normally take no part in church activities.

5. (C) COM called on the Papal Nuncio the week after the
visit to raise the statements made by Cardinal Bertone. The
Nuncio defended Bertone's statement on the embargo strongly
as consistent with the Vatican's position, and refused to be
swayed on the question of swapping Cuban political prisoners
for five Cuban spies held in the U.S., saying all are
prisoners who suffer and the Church must defend the rights of
all. The Nuncio seemed literally to be stricken that the USG
would be offended by Bertone's comments. He did allow that
he thought it was unfortunate that the Cardinal had decided
to speak in Spanish, a language in which he is not
comfortable, at the news conference. That decision may have
induced Bertone to use the Spanish phrasing he had heard most
recently, that of the senior officials of the Cuban Foreign
Ministry who used their customary loaded language to describe
relations with the U.S. The Nuncio cited some things he saw
as successes coming from the visit, including progress on

HAVANA 00000245 002.2 OF 002


allowing the Church to have regular radio broadcasts and
permission for construction on churches (though not to build
entirely new churches).

6. (C) In a subsequent meeting, the usually cautious and
circumspect Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana,
told COM and PolEcon Counselor that he was disappointed with
the visit as a whole. Ortega complained about the level of
Cardinal Bertone's homilies, which he described as
doctoral-level essays on the theology of relativism--a worthy
subject, but not what the Cuban people needed or wanted to
hear about at this time. Ortega also was very unhappy about
the decision to have the Cardinal visit the ELAM (Escuela
Latino-American de Medicina or Latin American School of
Medicine). There he met with foreign students dressed in
native dress who extolled the benefits of being brought to
Cuba to study medicine. The event was a blatant propaganda
exercise directed at individuals who are not in any way
related to the Cuban Catholic Church. Presumably, it was the
price that had to be paid to allow the construction and
dedication of the papal monument in Villa Clara to go
forward.

7. (C) While disappointed in the visit of Cardinal Bertone,
Ortega is already focused on a larger goal--another papal
visit. He said that he hoped to convince the Vatican that it
will be possible for the Pope to stop in Cuba upon his return
from an already scheduled visit to Mexico in January 2009.
Ortega expects that the Vatican will argue that the Pope will
be too exhausted to do another visit, but he plans to argue
that the flight to Cuba from Mexico is short; the visit would
consist only of the dedication of the new seminary now under
construction near Havana and a large, open-air mass; and that
the Pope can then fly directly to Rome. As Ortega faces
mandatory retirement for age at the end of 2009, this will be
his last chance to get the Pope to Cuba. He hopes that a
papal visit will help to fill the newly-opened seminary with
Cuban candidates for the priesthood.

8. (C) The most positive reports regarding the Bertone visit
came from outside of Havana. Santiago-based priest, Fr. XXXXXXXXXXXX
, described the Catholic faithful in eastern Cuba as
excited by the visit, and enthusiastic participants in the
mass Bertone celebrated in the city of Guantanamo and his
visit to the Basilica of the Copper Madonna near Santiago.
XXXXXXXXXXXX thought the Cardinal's homilies on those
occasions were appropriately directed to the interests of the
local people and well-received. He agreed, however, with the
overall assessment that the visit had not addressed the
broader expectations of the Cuban people.

9. (C) COMMENT: The Cuban church hierarchy has been famous
(or infamous) for taking a very mild stance relative to the
Castro regime. Their goal, and that of the Vatican as well,
has been to preserve and nurture back to health an
institution that had been battered by the revolution. To
achieve that goal, their center of gravity has been the
regime, since it has always represented the biggest threat to
the existence of the church as an institution. Through
keeping the regime friendly, the Church hopes to build on
small successes, like access to the airwaves and permission
to construct Church-related buildings like the seminary. In
the sense of achieving the goal of keeping the regime
friendly, the Bertone visit could be considered a great
success, therefore. However, it is a success that could come
at the cost of a loss of confidence in the Church among the
Cuban faithful. If those faithful feel the Catholic Church
is not sensitive enough to their expectations, they may begin
to drift away, perhaps to be picked up by the burgeoning
evangelical and pentecostal movements on the island.
Parish-level priests we spoke with in Havana are aware of
this threat and were even more vocal in their disapproval of
the Bertone visit. It goes without saying that we too are
extremely disappointed by the fact that the Cardinal allowed
himself to be used by the regime as a propaganda tool to bash
U.S. policy. If an early-2009 papal visit is a viable
option, the way might still be clear to recuperate some of
the ground lost through Bertone's visit. But that will only
happen if the Vatican has a change of heart about how it
deals with this regime.




PARMLY
Traduce este documento »

Traducción automática. Puede que el texto traducido no sea fiel al original

Buscador de cables

Ver todos los documentos »
Más información
Únete ahora a EL PAÍS para seguir toda la actualidad y leer sin límites
Suscríbete aquí

Archivado En

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Logo elpais

Ya no dispones de más artículos gratis este mes

Suscríbete para seguir leyendo

Descubre las promociones disponibles

Suscríbete

Ya tengo una suscripción