AMERICA/CUBA - "Nobody has the right to transform churches into political trenches": the Archdiocese of Havana on occupation of the church of Our Lady of Charity

Havana (Agenzia Fides) - The Archdiocese of Havana issued a statement regarding the 13 people who have occupied the church of "Our Lady of Charity", in the center of the capital, where they spent the entire night. "Nobody has the right to transform churches into political trenches," said the statement, which continues: "Other groups and other dissidents have been mobilized to take up other churches, but they refused to do so, considering it a disrespectful act towards the Church". The pastor of the church of "Our Lady of Charity", Father Roberto Betancourt, received a letter from the protesters in which they explained the reason of the occupation: ask the Pope to put pressure on the regime so that the reforms are implemented. Protesters promise to leave the place of worship once they receive a reply from the ecclesiastical authorities. The Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Havana, Ramon Suarez Porcari, went there on Tuesday evening, March 13, when the church was occupied, to listen to the demands of the dissidents, and assured them that their message "would be transmitted". So he asked them to leave the temple, but the group refused. The Church, according to the note, discussed the situation with the Cuban government, which pledged "not to act in any way." According to the statement which Fides received, this gesture in Havana is part of "a strategy prepared and coordinated in various regions of the island, to create situations of conflict, in view of Benedict XVI’s visit." The Archdiocese of Havana says that the Church listens, accepts, and intercedes for everyone, "but cannot accept attempts to actions that distort the nature of her mission or could threaten the religious freedom of those who visit the churches." "Nobody has the right to destroy the spirit of celebration of the faithful Cubans and many other citizens, who wait with joy and hope Pope Benedict XVI’s visit," the statement concludes. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 15/3/2012)