Juan Tamayo (The Miami Herald) reports that Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega will celebrate his 75th birthday tomorrow (October 18, 2011) and, as required by Catholic Church law, he has offered his resignation as archbishop of Havana. However, the article says, “Most analysts agree the Vatican is highly unlikely to accept the resignation of a prelate who guides the most powerful non-government organization in Cuba.” Although Cuba was pronounced officially atheist from 1962 until 1991, Catholicism has been alive and well throughout the decades.
As Tamayo writes, Raúl Castro’s government has allowed Ortega to build a new seminary, launch a business school and run charity programs that include homes for the elderly and soup kitchens for the poor. Ortega also helped carry out Castro’s decision to free more than 100 jailed dissidents, and last year mediated the government’s reactions to the Ladies in White activist group—female relatives of political prisoners. The article goes on to list complaints from detractors of Ortega’s approach vis-à-vis Cuban policy.
The article stresses that most predict that Pope Benedict XVI will not accept Ortega’s resignation now, “at a time when the church faces ‘favorable circumstances’ and is preparing for the 400th anniversary next year of Cuba’s patron saint, Our Lady of Charity. [. . .] His resignation as archbishop may be accepted—he will remain a cardinal—in two years, perhaps after a papal visit for the Lady of Charity events, church officials said. And it’s way too early to speculate on a successor.”
For full article, see http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/15/2455522/the-high-wire-walked-by-cubas.html