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Why Cuba is getting worse for the Catholic Church

It is almost a cliché in Latin America that whenever a leftist government is elected, people ask if the country will become the “next Cuba.” But with persecution of the island nation’s Catholic Church increasing, it might be more apt for Catholics to ask if Cuba is becoming the “next Nicaragua.”

As the economic crisis in the country worsens and protests against the regime increase, government pressure on the Catholic Church grows, despite a progressive increase in freedom of worship in the last three decades.

Priests have denounced government threats and intimidation, Holy Week processions have been banned and several Catholic activists have been imprisoned or exiled from the country.

“I’d say that in Cuba there is freedom of worship, but not religious freedom. There is freedom of worship because you can go to church on Sundays in peace. Before they viewed that badly, now not so much — there are Masses, there are retreats, there are seminaries,” said Bladimir Navarro, a Cuban priest who has lived in exile in Madrid for the last four years.

“But there is no religious freedom because there cannot be Church media, religion cannot be taught in schools. Only now are some priests and bishops allowed to speak publicly, but everything is hyper-controlled by the Religious Affairs Office of the Communist Party,” he told The Pillar.

For a while, Cuban Church-state relations seemed to be improving after St. John Paul II’s first visit in 1998, and Francis’ own overtures. So why does there now seem to be a progressive deterioration of the freedom of the Church at this moment?

Read more at The Pillar 

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