Camagüey.–Under the maxim of unity as a vocation and testimony of the church, at the end of 2022, the Theological and Pastoral Symposium organized by the Council of Churches of Cuba took place in this city in homage to the reverend Pablo Odén Marichal Rodríguez, prestigious leader ecumenical died in 2022.
The meeting was attended by several generations of practitioners of different doctrines of the Christian faith, representing the nearly 50 members of the Council, among churches of different denominations, movements and ecumenical institutions, all articulated in pursuit of the common good.
In the midst of the intense work sessions, its president, Joel Ortega Dopico, shared with the press substantial reflections on the role of that fellowship in the current context, when it is essential for Cuba and the church today to seek unity among so much diversity. .
«Unity – he commented – has to do with ecumenism, with the Greek term that means the “house of all”, in which each one, each sector of society has its specific mission, as do those of us who are part of the Council of Churches of Cuba based on service to others.
According to the pastor, it is about showing that unity between the churches through actions and concrete social commitments, regardless of their historical and cultural roots, their traditions and doctrines; all of this goes to the background to focus on the spiritual and material needs of the people.
In this regard, he gave the example of what happened in Pinar del Río after the passage of Hurricane Ian: “If we are going to respond to the emergency, to the humanitarian aid that must be carried out there, we do it together, we look for the churches who are in the place and we all join in that solidarity action.
UNITED TO SERVE
Joel Ortega Dopico explained that the Symposium devoted a good part of its space to analyzing how to be more effective in the action of the churches in society, especially in an issue that is essential, not only for Cuba but for the world, which is the spirituality, as an element of unity and rapprochement.
“When we say this – he stressed – we mean how churches can come together to help families, the elderly, women, children and young people, inmates, people with disabilities, through interaction and permanent dialogue with the State and its institutions”.
In this, the pastor pointed out, lies the responsibility of the church as a social actor in today’s Cuba; hence its motto United to serve: «We show God’s love to the world in daily service in many spheres of life, and in changing ourselves too, to the extent that the “house” we inhabit changes».
“Everything has to do – he added – with human dignity, with the rights of people and with the freedom of Cubans to live fully in Cuba and our vocation for unity as believers, which is God’s vocation, in which There is no room for hatred, grudges, discord and the negative things in life.
Ortega Dopico assured that the Church is living today in a historic moment, with many opportunities to take advantage of, and also with many challenges, as all Cubans have, in which there are more and more convergences with the State in the action to carry out for the good of all the people.
THE WORLD IN CUBA, CUBA IN THE WORLD
The President of the Council of Churches of Cuba affirmed that in this common effort they have always had the support of brothers and sisters of faith who in the world show solidarity with the Cuban social project and reject everything that threatens the majority will to make the country a better “home”.
To illustrate, he mentioned how the voice of the Cuban and American churches has been present in different scenarios in favor of improving relations of mutual respect between the two countries, a bridge of friendship and understanding that has been maintained despite so many inconveniences.
The most recent show of support occurred last September, at the celebration of the Eleventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches, which approved a resolution condemning the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed more than 60 years ago by the United States Government. To Cuba.
“The blockade – he asserted – does not only seek to affect the material issue, but also to have a negative impact on the spirituality of the people. It is about attacking the dignity of Cubans, their most basic rights, and denying access to the satisfaction of their basic needs, generating a crisis situation.
He recognized that Cuba, with few resources and so many things against it, what it has done is a feat: “There are more who love us and build than those who hate and destroy us. Even if they are very powerful and have all the weapons in the world, they will not be able to defeat us. That is the story of David and Goliath.”
NEVER LOSE HOPE
Joel Ortega Dopico referred to the year that has just ended, as a period of harsh tests for the country, due to the US sanctions, the economic crisis and the energy contingency, among other vicissitudes that have had a notable impact on the quality of life of families. Cuban.
“The church – he said – responds to this with what is central and important for us: hope. We are convinced and believe that hope is possible, as demonstrated by facing the serious challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed us to meet again in person.”
The pastor recalled that, throughout this period, church services were redoubled with the purpose of bringing protection and diagnostic means, medicines, equipment, supplies and food to Cuba, closely articulated with international organizations and with the Ministry of Public Health.
«The proposal of the Council of Churches of Cuba, which coincides with the Cuban social project, is a proposal for unity, articulation, life. We believe that equality is possible. Perhaps today for many in the world it seems like a distant dream, but we have fought and will fight to make it come true.
“We are united – he added – the same love for people, for people. As a nation, we cannot lose sight of that horizon, because sometimes on the horizon there are also black clouds that persist in preventing us from seeing what the church calls the reign of God. We are not going to give up.”