As if the Archbishop of Havana hadn't sufficiently ruffled bloggers’ feathers over the recent papal visit to Cuba – specifically his request to have protesters removed from a church and his lack of cooperation in facilitating a meeting between the pontiff and dissident groups – in a recent address at a Harvard University conference, Cardinal Ortega referred to those church protesters as criminals, once again raising the ire of Cuban netizens.
babalu called the comments “derisive” and “nothing less than reprehensible”:
This latest sin against God and His flock is only another example of what a truly despicable man Ortega is. Fortunately, the Good Lord has provided the objects of Ortega's sinful ridicule and scorn the opportunity to respond.
The blog then linked to a mainstream media article in which some of the protesters were interviewed and denied that they had criminal records. In a subsequent post, the blog got hold of a petition for Cardinal Ortega's retirement and encouraged readers to sign:
According to the rules established by Pope John Paul II, all bishops are required to retire when they reach the age of 75. Cardinal Ortega was born in October 1936. This means he is overdue for forced retirement, yet, he clings to his post, and the Holy Father allows him to do so.
Finally, at Translating Cuba, Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada confessed that they had “no words to describe the recent statements made by his Eminence Cardinal and Archbishop of Havana Jaime Lucas Ortega Alamino during his stay last week in the United States of America”:
Despite the fact that he has spoken in a deliberate tone, the language used by the Cuban cardinal places at disadvantage the credibility of the good function of the Catholic hierarchy in the island. He has repeated in his discourse the same phrases used by the ruling class.
All of us who follow the evolution of the Catholic Church in Cuba, have denounced on many occasions the so badly called relationship between Church and State, and the complicity of the Church with the silence of the true existing situation in the island related to the lack of a state of rights and also the lack of places for free religious worship.
They went on to say that the Cardinal's speech “was similar to one of the many speeches dictated by the office of the Department of Ideology of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba”:
Today’s comment does not attempt to criticize the role of the Church in Cuba, but it tries to put in its right place he who uses the Catholic Church for his own benefit and in defense of those who are sinking the nation into an increasing poverty.
We would have to ask such a Cuban Cardinal, “How could he have access to the police records of each person who occupied the Caridad Church in Havana?” We would also ask, “How could he obtain the information that such acts of civil disobedience were organized from Miami?” I understand this time, like many other times, that the Cardinal spoke more than he should, and now he has to withstand all the critics coming from different latitudes.
I never imagined to hear, from the lips of the highest pastor of the Cuban Church, so much malice for those who try to promote full respect to the basic freedom of each man. To call those who serve unfair sentences under the most terrible conditions not described by people like him “common delinquents,” at some international meeting, makes him an accomplice of a corrupt and inert government.