The Miracle of Pope Francis
I am very grateful to Pope Francis. Really. Few will understand it, but it's true. He said some appropriate things, some of which were very relevant with respect to tyrants and dynasties.
I am not grateful, however, for what he failed to say or do. That reported by El País, the Washington Post and other international papers is absolutely true. Calling the Holy Father an "enemy of Cuba," however, just leads to political isolation. But this does not prevent one from recognizing that his critics are right, to an extent.
The Pope said nothing about the plight of the unknown dissident whom he blessed (exorcised?) after breaking through five security perimeters to reach the Pontiff. Neither did he, apparently, register any complaints about the fact that a group of female opponents of the regime, personally invited by Nunciature (and who ended up only seeing him from across the street, where he waved to them along with the crowd gathered in the Plaza de la Catedral de la Habana) were detained twice by the police before they could even reach the event. Perhaps the Nunciature did so, but we can only judge what is public, not what it can be presumed that others did.
In contrast, he dedicated an hour to see the man who shot Catholics, prohibited all religion, seized Church property, and expelled Cuba's priests. This is a bit confusing, when one considers that said figure is not even the head of state of the country being visited. It is even more distressing that he did not find time (even five minutes) to receive a representative of the Damas de Blanco, who are harassed every Sunday when they attend mass in any province.
Neither is it easily understandable why, if he wished to stress the theme of reconciliation, he could not pray a few minutes before the wall at the fortress of La Cabaña fortress, where hundreds of young Catholics were shot, before shouting "¡Viva Cristo Rey!" This is particularly puzzling when he made this gesture for the soul of Father Luis Espinal, where his martyred corpse was dumped by the Bolivian military.
Nevertheless, I repeat that, in my view, Pope Francis made possible a miracle that many of us had hoped for, with infinite faith: he made it public and manifest that Cuba's youth is made up of more than those who don ideological masks on the island, before travelling to Miami and declaring themselves apolitical. During one of his homilies something happened that revealed to all that the gulf between the Government and the opposition is not occupied solely by apathy. There are many more people who also disgruntled, searching for their own path to turn the country around.
The miracle of this papal visit came with the remarks of a boy, Leonardo Fernández, who had been charged with welcoming the Pontiff on behalf of the young Cubans at the Felix Varela Cultural Center. This facility is located in the former San Carlos Seminary, a cradle of patriotic, liberal and Catholic intellectualism, which for the first time, in the 19th century, laid the foundations of national thought. Leonardo's message was worthy of this legacy, as he moved all by addressing Cuba's Gordian Knot, with brave, profound and by no means cryptic words.
Daring to face other's intolerance and fear, he asked Francis: "Help us to be young people who are able to cooperate and accept those who think differently. Let us not seclude ourselves behind the walls of ideology or religion, and let us overcome individualism and indifference, the great evils plaguing Cuban life." He then added a phrase that could be interpreted as the shout of the island’s young pariahs, referring to "their hope (that of Cuba's youth) in a future of profound changes, in which Cuba is a home for all its children, whatever their beliefs, and wherever they may be." Leonardo knows what he is talking about: those young people harbor a hope for a future that brings profound changes, or real ones, so that the country might finally belong to all, regardless of ideology or where its citizens reside.
He said this in front of the Pope, and the Cardinal (who kept grimacing), the secret police, the ridiculous "rapid action" student brigades that they brought in from the UCI and the University of Havana, and journalists form around the world. And the young Catholics there applauded his words with a brave and resounding ovation. I am grateful to the Pope for not having abandoned him in that situation, though his support had to be tempered by the confines of his official capacity.
How could I not be thankful for this miracle? This was the most genuine and lasting thing that will survive this papal visit. We have witnessed how the island is still home to young people who believe that another Cuba is possible —and aren't afraid to say so.