“The Catholic Church renews its leadership roster and adapts its strategy to the new historical phase Cuba is going through and in line with Pope Francis’ guidelines. Thus [creating] a Cuban church more focused on social issues and more attentive to the young.” The professor of history of religions Lopez Oliva, like most of the island’s Catholic movement, wants to emphasize that the Vatican’s choice to appoint Juan De la Caridad Garcia as new archbishop of Havana and to retire Cardinal Jaime Ortega is not a bureaucratic move.
In fact, Ortega was for about 30 years the leader of the capital’s archdiocese, and he marked a turning point in the language of the Catholic Church, repairing broken dialogue with the government and starting a recovery of the prestige and the active role of the Catholic movement after the repression suffered in the 1970s.
But he was also criticized by the Catholic movement, which believes the recovery happened at the cost of getting too close to the government, even to the point of distancing itself from the opposition. Through negotiations with President Raul Castro and with Barack Obama as an intermediary of Pope Francis to reach a detente between Cuba and the United States, Ortega had triggered a controversy by claiming that “in Cuba there are no political prisoners.”