Cuba's Cardinal Ortega receives highest award of Knights of Columbus
- Submitted by: manso
- 08 / 14 / 2010
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Receiving the Knights of Columbus' highest award, Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana heralded recent "unprecedented" progress in church-state relations and "a new situation of social appreciation" for Catholics in the Cuban nation.
Cardinal Ortega, who has headed the Havana Archdiocese since 1981, received the Knights' "Gaudium et Spes" Award Aug. 3 during the States Dinner at the organization's international convention in Washington.
He thanked the Knights for their solidarity with and financial support of the Catholic Church in Cuba over the years, especially for the construction of a new national seminary in Havana, expected to open in November with a capacity to house 100 seminarians.
"Regardless of the distances, and the differences in our social or political systems, you have been brothers to the Cuban Catholics and have shown us your solidarity," the cardinal said, referring to the convention's theme, "I Am My Brother's Keeper."
The award citation for Cardinal Ortega quoted from the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "Gaudium et Spes." It praised him as "a prime example of a good shepherd, one who has served his people faithfully and heroically for many years and has taken into his heart 'the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties' of his flock."
"Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, it often has been true that the faith is more cherished when challenged," the citation said. "This has been the case with our Catholic brothers and sisters in Cuba, where the church has continued to live and grow in a most challenging environment. This leader of the church in Cuba has himself suffered for his faith, yet has remained a steadfast witness to Jesus Christ, continuing his apostolic ministry with courage and grace."
In his acceptance speech, Cardinal Ortega said signs of progress in Cuba include the recent church-government talks leading to the release of 52 political prisoners over the next three months and the growth of home-based mission houses that have grown into parish communities.
"Now we must build parish churches," he said. "We have already achieved some permits to build them, but our church is poor and needs help."
By Catholic News Service