Pope Francis is reported to have sent the following to Cuban President Raúl Castro in a Spanish-language telegram:
“On receiving the sad news of the death of your dear brother, His Excellency Mister Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, former president of the State Council and of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, I express my sentiments of sorrow to Your Excellency and other family members of the deceased dignitary, as well as to the people of this beloved nation. At the same time, I offer prayers to the Lord for his repose and I entrust the whole Cuban people to the maternal intercession of our Lady of the Charity of El Cobre, patroness of this country.”
I keep seeing outraged remarks about what he said, but really … where’s the basis for them?
Pope Francis is a world leader who has visited Cuba. Condolences were in order. What was he supposed to say to the bereaved … “I’m glad the schmuck is dead”?
Fidel Castro was baptized Catholic and educated by the Jesuits. Then he became a brutal dictator and avowed atheist. Any Christian should be sorry the man apparently died unrepentant. How much more the pastor of the worldwide church the man was born into, then repudiated and persecuted?
And it’s not like Francis didn’t get in a very proper and polite dig with “I offer prayers to the Lord for his repose and I entrust the whole Cuban people to the maternal intercession of our Lady of the Charity of El Cobre, patroness of this country.”
Personally, I think the text of the telegram was well done. As was his visit to Cuba.
The Daily Mail UK reported that the primary motive behind the Pontiff’s trip was not political, but pastoral. He went to encourage Catholic Cubans who have suffered under Communist rule.
Pope Francis gave Fidel a selection of books, including one written by Rev. Amando Llorente, a Jesuit preacher who taught Castro as a young man, but was expelled from Cuba under Communism.
He also celebrated Mass in Havana’s Revolutionary Square near a huge metal sculpture of Che Guevara.
That sculpture of Che Guevara is permanent. But check out what was put up for the Mass!