By Robert Royal
November 30, 2016
It’s not hard to understand why many secular people in the West were fascinated by a figure like Fidel Castro. Where religion retreats, political faiths tend to advance to fill the absence of meaning, purpose, authority (yes, people crave that, too). Add a bold, charismatic leader willing to fight – even die – for something? It was the Iliad, Robin Hood, Star Wars, in hip scraggly beards, jungle fatigues, defiantly smoking Cuban cigars.
But why many religious people over decades were taken with the now departed máximo lider is harder to grasp. Vaticanist Sandro Magister has wittily observed: Pope Francis cried at his passing, Patriarch Kirill wept, but among those close to the situation – the Cuban bishops – it’s dry eyes all around.
In 1998, during Pope John Paul II’s pilgrimage to Cuba, George Weigel and I took in Havana’s Museum of the Revolution. I convinced him to go because my American guidebook, which lied nearly as much as the Castro brothers, called it “a must for anyone with a taste for history – allow yourself plenty of time.”
It was indeed a “must,” but not as advertised. A piece of a fighter jet shot down during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Dusty artifacts with curling paper labels, clearly neglected for decades. As for time, the crowd was minimal – in fact, just the two of us, despite all the foreigners in town. Read the rest at The Catholic Thing.