BY RACHEL DEL GUIDICE
CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Cuba will be building its first Catholic church since the reign of Fidel Castro began, according to CNN.com.
Located in the remote town of Sandino, this church has been in the making since the 1959 revolution.
CNN reports, “The Sandino church has been 56 years in the making, ever since Fidel Castro took power and Cuba became an officially atheist state.”
Bishop Jorge Enrique Serpa Pérez, who supervises the diocese where the new church will be built, said, “There is money to start, there is the construction material to start, there are the permissions to start, so everything is ready.”
Sadly, because of Castro’s government, religious people, especially Catholics, were thought to be dangerous anarchists. It was thought that they would overthrow Castro.
“In the first years of the revolution,” reports CNN, “thousands of Catholic priests were jailed or forced into exile, and church property, including the Jesuit school that Castro attended, was seized by the Cuban government.”
When Pope St. John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998, conditions began to improve. Christmas was reinstated as a national holiday and religious Cubans faced less discrimination.
Ministers in Cuba have had a long road to hoe.
“The Rev. Cirilo Castro drives that road to Sandino once a week to officiate Mass in a converted garage in the back of a house the church rents,” reports CNN. “He has lost count of the miles he has put on his green Russian Lada as part of his ministry to towns throughout the province. When the new Catholic church is built – the first in Sandino’s history – Castro said he would move to minster there full time.”