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No Change in Cuba

by Christopher A. Ferrara

There are some Catholics who think that various papal trips to this or that place are a great achievement simply because the trips are "unprecedented." But what does the mere physical presence of the Pope achieve? After all, the Pope is not some living miraculous relic. People are not cured by touching a papal tunic.

In Cuba, for example, it is now apparent that, five years after the "unprecedented" papal trip to Cuba, there has been absolutely no change in the Castro regime’s oppression of the Church - even though, as I recall, the neo-Catholic commentators at EWTN assured us that the moment the Pope set foot on Cuban soil "a new era" would begin in that country.

Hardly. As Zenit.org reported on January 17, 2003 "Five years after the historic visit by John Paul II, Cuba still treats the Church as if it were a private entity, says the archbishop of Havana. Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino lamented the lack of change in Church-state relations in Latin America’s only Communist nation."

Zenit notes what I have just mentioned: that "The papal visit had raised hopes that Fidel Castro would adopt policies more open to the Church, permitting it, for instance, to broadcast television programs and open centers of learning." It never happened. As Cardinal Ortega laments: "no type of political reform has been carried out."

This is not to say that the Pope should not visit places like Cuba. The Pope’s presence, if nothing else, may serve to give hope and encouragement to the mass of persecuted Catholics who suffer under the Castro regime.

But the Pope cannot be everywhere at once. It is not his physical presence but the power of his office that can work miracles. God has deigned to consign to the papal office the power to convert the entire nation of Russia to the one true religion if only the Pope will perform a simple ceremony naming that nation and consecrating it to the Immaculate Heart. But the forces of post-conciliar correctness reject the very notion of Russia’s conversion to Catholicism. Writing in the neo-Catholic magazine Crisis, Sandra Miesel, for example, scoffs at the belief that "Russia would convert to Catholicism in a day if only the pope would wave his crosier and consecrate it - accept no substitutes - to the Immaculate Heart." That is, the neo-Catholic gallery scoffs at miracles. At least Miesel admits that "substitutes" have been attempted! We can see the results in Russia today.

At his show trial for "counter-revolutionary activity" against the Bolshevik regime in 1923, Byzantine Rite Exarch, Leonid Fedorov, who was imprisoned for ten years, declared to his persecutors: "Since the moment I gave myself to the Catholic Church my sole thought has been to bring back my country to that Church, which I believe is the only true Church." It will take more than the dreamed-of visit of the Pope to Russia to bring that nation back to the one true Church. The means of doing so have already been given to the Pope. He can convert Russia without leaving Saint Peter’s Square. So, please God, not another papal visit, but rather a visit of the Holy Ghost to the people of Russia - after its consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.