HAVANA TIMES — The Catholic Church today reaffirmed its call for political reforms in Cuba calling for the government to recognize opposition groups on the island, reported dpa news.
Monsignor Jose Felix Perez, spokesman of the Cuban Episcopal Conference, told reporters in Havana that “the beginnings of the changes in the economic sphere should be accompanied by political changes as well.”
A day earlier, the Cuban bishops released a pastoral letter calling for political reforms as well as the market economic adjustments made by the government of Raul Castro in recent years.
Perez said today that the Church expects “greater openness” against groups with a “different thinking”. The socialist government of the island does not allow the existence of other parties alongside the Communist Party and accuses political dissidents of being “mercenaries” financed from abroad to destabilize the country.
The letter calls for “more openness in recognition of groups and individuals who have viewpoints different from the official line” saying they should be taken into account, explained Perez, deputy secretary also Episcopal Conference.
In recent years, the Church or sources close to the Cuban hierarchy have repeatedly called for political reforms on the island, ruled for more than half a century by a single party system .
Cuban bishops aired on Sunday in churches their pastoral letter entitled “Hope does not disappoint.”
“As has been the case in economics, we believe it is essential in our Cuban reality to update or modernize our national legislation in the political order,” reads the text.
The Church itself described the letter as the most significant since the one in 1993 titled “love conquers all,” and delivered in the critical time of the “Special Period” crisis. The letter was shared with the government, said Perez.
“Such is the practice of the bishops,” he said. “The day before the text was presented to the highest authorities of the country.” The authorities have not commented on the document.
The priest also expressed his hope that the letter is “read and interpreted in the same constructive spirit of service with the bishops have drafted it.”
The Catholic Church has become in recent years an important social actor in the island, especially after the arrival of Raul Castro to power in 2006. Cardinal Jaime Ortega brokered in 2010 the release of over a hundred political prisoners.
Circles close to the church hierarchy also publish two magazines on current affairs in a country where all media are in the hands of the State.
In the framework of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba in March 2012, the government also allowed the Church to spread their message on state television.