“Uncertainty about the future and hope that sooner or later the necessary changes will come to the Cuban people” is the scenario that Mons. Álvaro Julio Beyra Luarca, bishop of Bayamo and Manzanillo, Cuba, shared with the SSpS Generalate Community in Rome, Thursday, May 4.
On an ‘ad limina’ visit in Rome, after the meeting with Pope Francis, Bishop Álvaro made his first visit to our Generalate, since the SSpS Community of Niquero is in his diocese. In addition to asking for more Sisters, he insisted that Cuba, immersed in so many years of communism, is a country of mission, where catechesis and evangelization are urgent.
According to him, since the Pope’s visit to Cuba, the situation of the Church has improved and persecution has given way to a climate of tolerance. Although everything is still controlled by the government, the Church is free to carry out its activities.
Regarding the death of Fidel Castro, he said that there were no significant changes and no idea of what will happen in the future. The country’s economy is going badly, with no prospect of improvement, which means that especially young people want to leave Cuba and seek a better life in other countries. This context, coupled with the difficulty in taking on permanent commitments, makes it very difficult for new vocations to arise, said the bishop. That is why most of the priests and religious of Cuba come from other countries.
Religious ignorance, for him, is one of the great challenges for the Church since communism was not able to take the faith of the people, but did not allow access to religious education. The grandmothers, for a long time, sustained the faith by teaching the catechism to their grandchildren, but the present generation received nothing.
The priority of the Church of Cuba today is the creation of small communities of Christian life where Catholics can gather in houses to celebrate and deepen the faith, since there are few churches in the country. The presence of the Sisters, according to the bishop, is much appreciated by the people and the need for formation of Christian leaders makes them very welcome to the Church of Cuba.