Martha Beatriz Roque along with close to 750 other Cuban activists just sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI urging him to reconsider his planned March visit to Cuba. Since announcing the March 26-28th Papal visit to Havana and Santiago de Cuba, abuses have increased against Catholics in the communist country. Activists believe that a visit by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church later this month would only cause more injustices against Cuban Catholics.
The letter states, “We would be very happy to receive you in our country, if the message of faith, love and hope that you could bring us also would serve to halt the repression against those who want to go to church. May the Holy Trinity illuminate your mind so that you can make a correct decision.” Guillermo Fariñas, Sara Martha Fonseca, Vladimiro Roca, Jorge Luis “Antunez” García Pérez and his wife, Iris Tamara Perez Aguilar along with Roque and many other opponents of the visit signed the letter.
Such abuses occurring recently in Cuba have caused many loyal Catholics to reconsider their Sunday mass tradition. Government officials have harassed and threatened people gathering in churches, stating that many go to church for the sole purpose of ‘politicking.’ Many faithful Catholics are warned on Friday and Saturday that they should not attend Sunday mass and then are later arrested on Sunday.
Yoani Sanchez, a popular blogger, wrote in Thursday’s edition of El País, that while the Cuban’s welcomed the previous pontiff, Pope John Paul to Cuba in 1988, their sentiment of religious passion has changed to skepticism.