Havana (Agenzia Fides) - During the recent Extraordinary Plenary Assembly of the Cuban Episcopate, held from June 14 to 18 in Havana, several themes were discussed, as reported by the note sent to Fides. The Bishops in particular reflected on the invitation of the Holy Father Francis, addressed to the whole Church, for a synodal process that goes "from the bottom up", involving all the people of God. The Bishops of Cuba also analyzed the life of Catholic communities, in this period marked by the pandemic and by a worsening of the economic situation, with its inevitable consequences for the social fabric, sharing initiatives and experiences that have emerged in the dioceses to face the current challenges. The Bishops dwelt on the theme of the family, echoing the concerns of many families, not just Catholics, who turned to the Pastors asking for a word of light and hope. For this reason the Bishops published a message addressed to Cuban families inviting them to reflection and trust. Invoking the protection of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Bishops thank God in their message "for the Cubans who know how to take care of their families; for those who do their utmost to mediate in the natural conflicts that arise between parents, children, sons and daughters-in-law; for our elderly for defending life from conception to natural death, and for giving us the example of having had several children with fewer resources". At the same time, the Bishops also mention all those who "take care not only of members of their own family, but also of other families or people in difficulty", such as the neighbor who needs medicine, the elderly person who lives alone, spouses in crisis, people with parents in prison or hospitalized, young people tempted by alcohol or drugs. "To all who do good in silence, we thank God". After acknowledging with satisfaction that laws have been adopted in the country to protect the family, the Bishops note "with regret that Cuban families have suffered various attacks: finding daily food has become more and more difficult, precious time is lost in queues, with great risk due to possible Covid-19 infection; necessary drugs are scarce, prices for basic services have increased significantly and the salary is not yet enough for many to live with dignity.
Discouragement and uncertainty about the future provoke the desire to emigrate, especially among young people, mortgaging the future of Cuba". Furthermore, an anti-birth mentality persists, divorces and abortions are increasing, housing for young couples is lacking, and the prison population is increasing. "The Bishops want all of us, as citizens, to be more effectively involved in the solution of these evils".
To this complex situation, the publication of the resolution 16/2021 of the Ministry of Education in recent days, on the so-called "gender ideology" and "sex education", has been added. This resolution has aroused declarations, concerns, perplexity and criticism, because "it could take root in our country, moving us away from our history and our cultural tradition", say the Bishops, hoping for "a broad and participatory debate, in which everyone has the opportunity to be correctly informed and to express their opinion on the matter", the message quotes what Pope Francis writes on this subject in "Amoris Laetitia" (n. 56). The Cuban Bishops therefore "consider it necessary and indispensable" that: the primary and non-transferable right of parents to educate their children be recognized and respected, which must be taken into account in all forms of collaboration between parents, teachers and school authorities; that sex education be provided under the protection of parents, because it is their responsibility; that Cuban parents do their duty, without waiting for others to replace them; that they choose for their children the pedagogical style, the ethical and civic contents and, if they wish, the religious inspiration with which they want to educate them. "It is our duty - say the Bishops - to demand that the content of Resolution 16/2021 of the Ministry of Education be reconsidered, for not having sufficiently taken into account the right of parents to have their children sexually educated, and also for the serious consequences in the formation of children, adolescents and young people, formalizing the advancement of gender ideology in the field of education, which is so sensitive in the formation of the personality". The message concludes by recalling that "it is up to all of us, but above all to parents, to promote and bear witness to the beauty and joy of marriage created and loved by God. Therefore, let us not be discouraged when, at times, everything around us seems to go against the family institution. Let’s not lose our strength when we have to swim against the tide. Let’s teach young couples to work together and take care of their families". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 25/6/2021)