Pope Francis in Cuba

Elio Delgado Legon

The Pope during his Mass Sunday at the Plaza of the Revolution. Photo: Kaloian/cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Much has been written about Pope Francis since he became the leader of the Catholic Church, owing to his declarations in defense of the poor and his critique of the adoration of money.

Pope Francis has been called incendiary, a socialist and a communist. He has been criticized for meddling in political issues instead of addressing religious matters exclusively. His critics seem to forget that politics governs the life of societies, and that politics determine whether a society is plural and inclusive, selfish and exclusive, and whether it promotes peace or war.

In his homilies, Pope Francis has criticized savage capitalism, a system which does not place humanity at its core but which reduces everything to the search for profits.

When Pope Francis refers to all of these issues and expresses these ideas, he is not so much talking politics as he is advancing the ideas of the Gospel, as Jesus was the first to preach love among all human beings. Jesus was the first to criticize the exploitation of the poor by the rich, at a time prior to capitalism and economies based on trade. The Bible tells that Jesus threw the merchants out of the temple, a symbol of his defense of the poor.

Today, Jesus would condemn capitalism for its exploitation of workers, for the damage it causes the environment, for the sole purpose of selfishly accumulating riches with no regard for anything else. This is what Pope Francis has expressed in his defense of the poor, the underprivileged and the marginalized.

Dominican priest Frei Beto, a proponent of Liberation Theology and author of numerous books, has called Pope Francis a revolutionary, but not in the political sense of the word, but in the sense that he has revolutionized the Catholic Church by applying the ideas of Jesus more faithfully that had been done to date. For many years, the Catholic Church had been the church of the rich, while today we could affirm, without fear of contradiction, that it has become the church of the poor under Francis.

Pope Francis has devoted the greater part of his life to the defense of the poor and underprivileged and he will continue to do so, as that is his interpretation of the Gospel.

Perhaps not many people ask themselves why Jesus was sentenced to die on the cross, after being tortured so he would abjure his ideas. The fact of the matter is that the first man to hold socialist ideas, even though this social doctrine did not yet exist and he preached as the son of God, was Jesus.

That is the reason Pope Francis is against war, where the poor suffer the most, and has instructed that every church in Rome take in, at least provisionally, a family of refugees fleeing from wars.

In the homily he delivered Sunday at Havana’s Revolution Square, the Pope called for an end to the war in Colombia and thanked President Raul Castro for having accompanied and facilities the peace process there.

His life of service unto others was expressed in his final remarks: “He who does not live to serve, is not fit to live.”

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.


17 thoughts on “Pope Francis in Cuba

  • October 5, 2015 at 10:34 am
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    You’ve come to late to tell me about what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in my life. Not only do I have salvation and eternal life, I have a wonderful spouse who loves me, a beautiful home, a great church family, a fun job with a good salary, excellent health, but more importantly, a heart that loves the Lord and loves people. By His grace, for the past 5 years I have been able to increase my annual giving to the poor in the U.S. and abroad. We’ve helped the homeless in my streets, send money to my family in Cuba, those needing urgent care supplies, giving to build water wells, sponsor 2 needy children, gave to build homes for girls that are sold into prostitution as examples. I am experiencing “it’s more blessed to give than to receive”. If another person wants to live paycheck to paycheck and just barely get by, that’s OK by me. Not me, my goal is to live on 10% and give 90% as the Lord directs. I pray you have a wonderful day and that all of your dreams come true 🙂

  • September 28, 2015 at 6:39 am
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    I am afraid you missed my point entirely. I concurred there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with any issue. It is the personal attacks on the individual that I have problems with.

    Elio’s personal religious beliefs and fighting for the Revolution is simply a non issue unless one wants to use that in a personal attack implying he is hypocritical.

  • September 27, 2015 at 8:59 pm
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    Elio did not write anonymously. He has the right to express his views and did so. I and indeed others, have the right to disagree with him and to attack the ideas he promotes. He is a regular contributor to the Havana Times and we who read it are experienced in reading his views.
    In the free world, those who express political views frequently have those views attacked. However, there are in communist countries, those who think that views expressed by the faithful should be accepted without demur and in Cuba one can be locked up for doping so. In these columns I have read savage attacks by self appointed progressives upon elected US Presidents and officials without a murmur from you in their defence.
    It is as you should know, a fact that under the Castro regime, there was persecution of the Catholic Church, Catholic organizations and Catholic believers. Elio is now professing to be of the faithful and it is reasonable to question how he managed to hide his faith from the other revolutionaries. That he did so, appears undeniable as he was promoted to being a sergeant.

  • September 27, 2015 at 7:32 pm
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    In the world today billions live under your beloved capitalism on just US$2.00 a day because capitalism concentrates the money in the hands of a relative few as a normal way of operation.
    It does not work to provide for human need.
    Cuba BTW is state capitalist with a socialist-style distribution system.
    They already have the totalitarian organization from the top.
    All they need do is cut out providing life’s necessities for all Cubans and they’ll have deprivation just like in all other underdeveloped free-enterprise capitalist countries.
    The bad news for you is that automation will kill capitalism within 20 years or less.
    (read : ” Rise Of The Robots: Technology And The Threat Of A Jobless Future” : Martin Ford

  • September 27, 2015 at 7:23 pm
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    Elio could well have been a practicing Christian during the revolution and after.
    Real Christians believe in following the word of Christ in helping the poor as a first priority and that is what the Cuban Revolution was all about.
    What he could not be was a Catholic under orders from a fascist-loving Pope.
    working against the revolution as the Church did before they were justifiably exiled and shut down for years.

  • September 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm
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    Suggested viewing and listening:
    Go to You Tube .
    ask for ” Christianity is false and immoral: Christopher Hitchens” and when you bring it up, watch that 13 minute video and see just how immoral the killing of Christ and then accepting his death as atonement for the sins of others really is.
    You sound like the TV evangelists who wear $1000.00 suits and own private jets .
    My bet is that you think that all you need do is believe in Christ and you’ll get into Heaven /avoid Hell and that doing good or evil will have no effect on your (heavenly/hellish fate.
    BTW, Forbes Magazine listed Fidel as one of the richest people on Earth because …….this is true….they said as dictator with absolute power he COULD drive into the Cuban National Treasury and drive off with whatever he wanted on any given day.
    You still want to go with that as true ?
    You’ll go from Christian-Right to Christian Wrong.
    Try this : ” It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a RICH man to enter the kingdom of Heaven “.
    See, Jesus seemed to understand what you cannot ; that if a man is sitting on a pile of money while others go without the essentials, that act of cruelty , of not helping the poor, will guarantee that rich man a place in Hell.
    Christ also said something like
    “As ye do to the least (poorest) among us , so you do to me ”
    Okay , now twist those words to have Christ mean ” fuck the poor.”
    I’m sure you’ll give it a shot.

  • September 27, 2015 at 8:38 am
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    Assuming Elio is both Communist and Christian, does that mean others have the right to constantly attack him on a personal level? While there is nothing wrong with posting your disagreement with a political or religious idea, attacking someone as a person because they have those ideas is an entirely different situation.

    My views on politics and religion are exceeded by my belief that others should have the right to speak openly about theirs without being attacked.

  • September 26, 2015 at 8:22 pm
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    Tut, tut Bob. Elio professes to be staunch Christian. If he had done so at the time of the revolution, he would have been persecuted and locked up with others who professed their faith.
    Saying that his post gives no indication of his personal beliefs is somewhat naïve – to quote what he wrote:
    “Today, Jesus would condemn capitalism for its exploitation of workers, for the damage it causes the environment, for the sole purpose of selfishly accumulating riches with no regard for anything else.”
    Do you really think that Elio is not expressing belief in Jesus by writing that, or do you actually regard him as a cynic?

  • September 25, 2015 at 9:35 pm
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    I must speak up in defense of Elio. He is entitled to his political opinions. He has a right to express them. Others need not agree with him. Others have the right to express their disagreement. But I continually see him being personally attacked in many comments to this post and preceding ones. I see comments attacking many of his non-political statements simply because of his political views. He writes his opinion of the Pope’s words and motivations and is personally attacked for his political views.

    Now Elio is now being personally attacked on religious grounds. He deserves better. This is especially interesting since many readings of his post above give no indication of his personal religious beliefs. Commenters are making assumptions based on his analysis of the Pope. I question some respondents knowledge of today’s Cuban culture if they do not know Communists who have strong religious beliefs, either Santeria or Christian.

    Some commenters here are so intolerant and single item agenda focused that they become blind to the rights of others to see things differently. Elio deserves better than dealing with the recreation of Joe McCarthy and his witch hunt.

  • September 23, 2015 at 5:52 am
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    The real “turn” is the turn AWAY from Castro socialism. Some will go the way of full-speed capitalism while others will return to Christianity.

  • September 22, 2015 at 8:49 pm
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    Communism is bankrupt. This turn to the church is a desperate way to regain some spiritual under pinning. Unfortunately the communism spent 50 years beating the spirituality out of the public. The turn to materialism is of their own making.

  • September 22, 2015 at 8:44 pm
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    The concentration of power of a few who then rule over the many under the banner of socialism is an abomination. God gave us free will. Systems that subject humanity to oppressive controls is not what Jesus had in mind. Let the people choose their leaders. Let the economic model be accountable to the people. Let’s call that socialism and give it a try versus the false promise being sold by authoritarian leaders who care about power and not service to the people.

  • September 22, 2015 at 11:57 am
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    Mr. Delgado, I pray that you come to know the real Jesus. Jesus is not socialist, he hates poverty and he likes nice things. Currently, Jesus and his Father live large. Heaven is a wealthy place, opulent, glorious, over the top with luxury and riches: streets of gold, filled with precious stones and gates made of pearl. Jesus is so wonderful that he’s preparing a place right there next to him for those of us who believe.

    The reason Jesus died on the cross was to exchange his life for ours. Our sin
    for his sinless life; his beatings/stripes for our healing; his poverty so we
    could be rich. The only people Jesus condemned during his ministry on earth
    were the religious leaders of the day — the elite in power ruling with a heavy
    hand over the masses.

    Jesus supporters were rich. Obviously his ministry partners had enough to
    provide for their families and extra to support a traveling minister and his
    entourage. Jesus commands his followers to seek the things of God as a priority
    over the things of the world which includes helping the poor. However, it’s
    common sense that if everyone was poor, who would help the poor?

    If you have a problem with the rich then how about Forbes magazine
    estimate of Mr. Fidel Castro’s wealth at $900 million (2006 dollars).

  • September 22, 2015 at 10:02 am
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    I cannot help but to smile . . . nay. I cannot help but to guffaw. What drivel from the pen of Elio Delgado Legon! As an anti capitalist, he epitomizes the ever-complaining communist. He had nothing. He has nothing. He will have nothing. And, he will leave nothing behind except a bad taste in the mouth of an archaic ideology. As he clings to his outdated ideology, he will continue to try to survive as he scrounges to stay half ways alive. I am a capitalist and I am proud to call myself a capitalist. In fact, I am the post boy for capitalism. I enjoy investing my money. I relish in the fact that there is competition. I take great pleasure in deciding what I will do each day. I like the idea that someone can start a business and be successful in his business and be a success in life. I could go on and on to give you what I think the benefits of a capitalist society are. I know, however, that you, the reader, appreciate from where I am coming. Elio’s middle name says it all: Delgado, which is Spanish for “thin.” Need I comment more on this metaphor? Amen.

  • September 21, 2015 at 12:21 pm
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    Jesus did not expel the merchants from the temple, but moneychangers. The practice of allowing moneychangers in the temple had developed over time as Jerusalem had become a site for pilgrims to come and pray. Pilgrims from foreign lands might not have had local currency and so moneychangers began by offering a convenience to travellers. This convenience soon became a business which profaned the real purpose of the temple, worship.

    Was Jesus a “socialist”? As we have discussed extensively here, the word “socialist” had many different meanings. If the word is to be applied to Jesus, it refers to his message of charity, compassion, peace and simplicity of life.

    The system called “socialism” in Cuba is short on compassion or charity, and was never pacifist. The accumulation and concentration of political power in the hands of an elite few is unchristian. Most significantly, the enforced atheism of the first 4 decades of the Cuban Revolution, during which priests were imprisoned and exiled, was an insult & injury to all Christians. Even today, practicing Christians in Cuba are subjected to harassment and abuse, as the we have seen in the arrests of believers attempting to see the Pope.

    Another quotation from the Bible is perhaps significant today: “Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s” …and in Castro’s Cuba, that would be all political power which remains in Caesar’s hands.

  • September 21, 2015 at 11:21 am
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    Elio, a socialist, is promoting Jesus Christ and his teachings? This is hilarious. The very same Elio that continues to support a regime famous for imprisoning and expelling priests? The Castros closed churches and converted church schools into communist property. Fidel created an environment where it was against social mores to wear crucifixes or display Christmas trees. Yet now because his panty-waisted President Raul is having second thoughts about his own mortality, Elio is embracing the very theology he clearly eschewed. Elio should stick to his recollections of the Castro revolution. Because true or not, they are mildly entertaining. This post is just ridiculous.

  • September 21, 2015 at 11:13 am
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    So Elio was an adherent of his faith during and following the revolution. But which faith Elio? That of the Marxist-Leninist or that of Catholicism? Couldn’t be both, because one forbade the other! Or did you Elio hide your Catholic belief from your Marxist-Leninist masters?
    Now Elio seeks to lecture he rest of us about what we should believe as in his aging and forgetful mind, he is trying to make Catholicism and communism synonymous.
    What Elio’s comments do illustrate however is that the Pope has succeeded in being all things to all people to the extent that Elio is springing to his defence.
    Why Elio was Fidel Castro Ruz ex-communicated by the Pope in 1962?

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