Help coming for Catholics in Cuba

By Chicago Catholic
Sunday, October 2, 2016

On Sept. 27, Catholic Extension President Father Jack Wall and delegations of Catholic bishops from Cuba and Puerto Rico announced the launch of two new efforts by the Chicago- based fundraising and church-building organization to support the Catholic Church in the Caribbean.

Speaking at a press conference, Wall called the organization’s new support for church infrastructure projects in Cuba and the increase of its longstanding support for the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico “two truly historic partnerships that will further build and strengthen the Church in Latin America.”

According to Father Wall, the recent opening of the Cuban Church — begun by Pope St. John Paul II’s visit to Cuba, and furthered by Pope Benedict in 2012 and Pope Francis last year — “has paved the way for a new U.S.- Cuban Catholic partnership focused on helping the Cuban Catholic Church with one of its most pressing needs: the repair and construction of churches and church facilities.

In a statement, Archbishop Cupich, the chancellor of Catholic Extension, said, “Catholic Extension’s announcement today that it is partnering with the Catholic Church in Cuba to repair and rebuild churches there and increase its financial support in Puerto Rico represents a significant step in helping Catholics in these areas to keep their faith alive and growing.”

For decades the Cuban Catholic Church, like other Christian denominations, has not had adequate facilities for its worship and its religious, social and charitable activities. But that is beginning to change, and in the case of the Catholic Church, it has recently been able to reacquire churches from the Cuban government. However, most of these reacquired churches require extensive repairs and reconstructions.

In addition, due to lack of funding and resources, churches in Cuba have also been struggling to repair many of the church buildings that were destroyed by Hurricanes Ike in 2008 and Sandy in 2012 and left in ruin ever since.