Cuba Derechos Humanos

Miami archbishop hopeful about Catholic Church in Cuba

Posted on Friday, 12.10.10
Miami archbishop hopeful about Catholic Church in Cuba

Six months into his tenure, Miami's archbishop called for patience to
rebuild Haiti and pointed to hopeful signs about the Catholic Church's
role in Cuba.

Nearly a year after an earthquake crippled Haiti, Miami Archbishop
Thomas Wenski warned that the country's recovery will remain sluggish as
long as its institutions are unable to get a handle on aid pledges from
the international community.

Speaking to The Miami Herald's editorial board Thursday, Wenski cited
the Haitian Catholic Bishops' Conference as an example.

“They don't have the capacity to absorb the money that we want to throw
at them,'' he said, noting that U.S. bishops collected $90 million in
earthquake relief immediately after the Jan. 12 temblor.

“Without the capacity, it will be like pouring water in sand. It will
be wasted.''

The U.S. bishops plan to set up an office with their Haitian
counterparts to coordinate rebuilding churches and schools, Wenski said,
but that is still some time away considering construction materials are
scarce and Haiti has not set forth a new building code.


In a wide-ranging interview, Wenski also touched on the church's role in
Cuba, which he called the “ultimate sugar-daddy state.''

Last month, Wenski hosted a delegation of Cuban priests in Miami,
following a high-profile visit the archbishop made to the island earlier
in November for the opening of Cuba's first seminary in 50 years.

“There does seem to be a thawing in the relationship between the church
and the government there,'' Wenski said.

The church has been criticized for negotiating with the Cuban government
for the release of dozens of political prisoners who have been exiled
from the island after being freed. Wenski echoed the Cuban priests last
month who said they still expect remaining prisoners to be released even
if they don't agree to leave Cuba.

Since his installation as archbishop six months ago, Wenski has shaken
up the archdiocese. He has reassigned priests and deacons, reconfigured
his cabinet and reopened St. Robert Bellarmine, an Allapattah church
that closed last year along with a dozen others in Miami-Dade and Broward.


On Thursday, Wenski reiterated that he may open other closed churches
and does not intend to close any more.

“It won't be possible to bring them all back at this point,'' he said.

The archdiocese is not the only institution struggling in the foundering
economy, he noted, but grappling with the downturn's effects has been

“I didn't expect to find it in the economic crisis that it's been,''
said Wenski, the former bishop of Orlando.


Wenski also spoke about the Rev. Alberto Cutié, a celebrity priest
caught by a tabloid photographer kissing a woman on a South Florida
beach last year. The scandal resulted in Cutié leaving Catholicism for
the Episcopal church and marrying the woman, who recently gave birth to
a baby girl.

“Lots of people were hurt, lots of people were disappointed — probably
including his own mother,'' Wenski said of Cutié's move, which prompted
a media frenzy and harsh words from former Archbishop John Favalora.

Wenski said he understood Cutié's falling in love — though
“grown-ups,'' he added, also choose to fall out of love — but said he
had a harder time dealing with Cutié's decision to abandon the church
altogether. Cutié could have left the priesthood but remained a
Catholic, Wenski said, emphasizing that the church did not force Cutié
to leave.

“We had the Kennedys,'' Wenski quipped. “They gave us heartburn, and
we didn't throw them out.''

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