Responding to one media report about the new church, Alberto de la Cruz, founder of Babalublog, a forum for Cuban democracy advocates, commented, "I believe the title says it all: ‘Cuba allows construction of first Catholic church since 1959. Allows? Has humanity (and the Church) become so deferential to the whims and compulsions of godless murderers and slave masters that we feel compelled to genuflect before them in submissive appreciation for allowing us to do something that God Himself endowed us with the right to do?"
Some are hopeful, however. Sandino resident Digna Martinez told CNN she has waited more than five decades for a church to be built in in the town where she, her husband and their two children were resettled in the early 1960s, after the government expropriated the family’s farm. She said one of the most devastating things about being forced to move more than 800 miles from her hometown was that there was no church.
"Having a church is very important," she said. "Many of the people here were raised as Catholics and need a church. We were baptized and pray when we go to bed and wake up, as our parents and grandparents taught us."
The opening to Cuba is “a good moment for people in both the US and Cuba, including the Church,” said Father Hernandez. “I’ve been waiting for this for years. After 50 years, it’s time to do something different.”
John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.