Pope Bendict has a simple message for Castro:
Speaking on the plane taking him from Rome for a five-day trip to Mexico and Cuba, the pope told reporters: “Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality.
Responding to a question about his visit to the island, a communist bastion off the coast of the United States for more than 50 years, Benedict added: “In this way we can no longer respond and build a society. New models must be found with patience and in a constructive way.”
I have always believed that God has a first-rate sense of humor and irony and this episode in history is further proof of it. In the 19th and 20th centuries Communism was proclaimed to be, and feared to be, the wave of the future. The Catholic Church on the other hand was frequently regarded as a doomed institution, hopelessly out of touch with modern times. Now the Pope goes to Cuba to, in effect, deliver the last rites to one of the last Communist regimes in the world, a Stalinist museum piece presided over by a decrepit revolutionary who is clearly a man of a dead era. The wisdom of Lord Macaulay strikes again in reference to this passage on the Catholic Church which he wrote in the 19th century prior to the rise of Communism:
There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.