Category : Caribbean

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Theodore Holly

Most gracious God, by the calling of thy servant James Theodore Holly thou gavest us our first bishop of African-American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led thy people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom thou callest from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Haiti, Spirituality/Prayer

(NPR) Religious Leaders In Cuba Outspoken And Critical Of Proposed Constitution

People in Cuba vote Sunday on whether to make socialism “irrevocable” on the island and establish the Cuban Communist Party officially as the “supreme guiding political force” in the state and society.

In recent weeks, debate around those propositions has been unusually intense for an island not known for democratic processes, and it has featured the growing strength of religious leaders.

The political and ideological monopoly would come via a new constitution that Cubans can either endorse or reject in a popular referendum. The draft document, prepared under the guidance of the Communist Party, would replace the current Soviet-era constitution, adopted in 1976 and amended numerous times in subsequent years.

No opposition parties are allowed in Cuba, but in the deliberation over the proposed constitution, religious groups on the island have taken a lead in criticizing the government plan, revealing a level of influence they have not previously demonstrated.

Read it all.

Posted in Cuba, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) PM Theresa May apologises to Windrush British citizens

After pressure from campaigners, the Prime Minister was forced into a U-turn this week after she initially refused to meet Caribbean leaders to discuss the plight of the “Windrush generation” — a reference to the ship Empire Windrush, which, in 1948, brought workers from the West Indies to Britain — who face deportation despite living in Britain for decades…

Thousands of people from the Caribbean, including children who travelled under their parent’s passport, made their home in Britain between 1948 and 1971. Owing to a lack of paperwork, many children of the Windrush generation have struggled to prove that they are in the UK legally, and have faced the prospect of deportation and the suspension of benefits or access to health services.

In a meeting on Tuesday, Theresa May apologised to the 12 Caribbean heads of government for the treatment of the Windrush citizens, and promised that no one would be deported.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Caribbean, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Raphaël Louigene and his burial team, tending to Haiti’s Dead

Like the country itself, Burial Road stretches between those who have everything and those with nothing. Even modest funeral parlors offer elaborate services starting at $1,100 — far beyond the means of most Haitians, who live on $2 a day or less.

No matter how rich in love they may be, most people can’t pay those fees. And so, the bodies of their sons and mothers wait here so long that their faces melt, their skin unravels. They are stacked one atop another in gruesome, wet piles that resemble medieval paintings of purgatory.

The men who have finally come to their rescue aren’t friends or relatives. They don’t know their individual stories. But they recognize poverty.

“They didn’t have a chance,” says Raphaël Louigene, the burial team’s stocky, soft-spoken leader. “They spent their lives in misery, they died in misery.”

Mr. Louigene and the other men work for the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, a charitable organization started in 2000 to help the country’s poorest.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Haiti, Pastoral Theology, Poverty

(CEN) Caribbean picks up the pieces after Hurricane Irma

The Island of Anguilla in the Diocese of North East Caribbean and Aruba featured in the most recent BBC 2 series, An Island Parish. It was badly affected by Hurricane Irma.

Speaking to The Church of England Newspaper on 27 September, Bishop Errol Brooks, whom the TV programme described as a ‘rock’, said the western half of Anguilla had suffered the worst. This is the Methodist area and two of their churches had been “really messed up”.

Of the three Anglican Churches the roof of St Andrew’s Island Harbour had been badly damaged. The winds that blew throughout the day had lifted a sheet or two of the roof in the main church St Mary’s in the Valley, and water had got inside.

While the worship area of the new section of St Augustine’s remained intact the 200-year-old section of the church had been badly damaged. “I do not know where to start,” said the assessor.

Damage was worse on the island of Dominica, where one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films was shot. The roof of St George’s Church has gone and the rectory, where this writer stayed when doing a locum on the island, is badly damaged. Barbuda, a small island off Antigua, had now been evacuated. The island of St Kitts however escaped without any damage.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Caribbean, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

Head of Jamaica Anglican church calls for the decriminalising of same sex relations

Gregory said Christians should be cautioned against believing in the view that they must be the gatekeepers of the law against buggery in order to prevent the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

“This submission does not accept the cause and effect relationship which is being introduced into this matter, neither is it advocating homosexual marriages,” he said….

Section 61 of the Offences against the Person Act of 1864 criminalises the ‘abominable’ anal sex – consensual or otherwise. The maximum punishment is 10 years’ imprisonment.

But Gregory argued: “Sexual activity engaged in public spaces is illegal and should continue to be so, whether of an heterosexual or homosexual nature.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Ethics / Moral Theology, Jamaica, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(Miami Herald) Fabiola Santiago on the Death of Fidel Castro–"Give us this moment"

During the six decades of the Castro brothers totalitarian rule, more than two million Cubans fled their beloved island, taking solace in the words of Cuba’s most famous exile, poet and independence hero José Martí: “sin patria, pero sin amo,” without a homeland, but without a master.

Countless met their deaths in the attempt to cross the seas and now trekking through the jungles of some seven countries to reach the U.S. border. One of Castro’s most heinous crimes was the massacre of 41 men, women and children attempting to flee Cuba on a tugboat on July 13, 1994. Cuban authorities sprayed the vessel with water hoses, rammed and sank it. This is not something I read. I interviewed survivors at the Guantanamo Cuban refugee camps months later. The Cuban Coast Guard refused to rescue the drowning, they told me.

There were so many other crimes and human rights abuses, largely ignored or benignly viewed by a world that gave Castro the benefit of the doubt, and only slapped him on the wrist occasionally at some forums like the United Nations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Caribbean, Cuba, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Theology

Will Willimon's wonderful story of an angry Duke University student parent

From here:

[Will] Willimon once preached about an encounter he had with the father of a graduating student. The father called his office and exploded over the phone. “I hold you personally responsible for this,” he yelled at Willimon. The father was angry because his graduate-school-bound daughter had decided (in the father’s words) “to throw it all away and go and do mission work in Haiti with the Presbyterian church.” The father screamed, “Isn’t that absurd! She has a bachelor of science degree from Duke University, and she is going to dig ditches in Haiti! I hold you responsible for this!”

Willimon, not easily intimidated, asked him, “Why me?” The father replied, “You ingratiated yourself and filled her with all this religion stuff.” Dr. Willimon was quick to reply, “Sir, weren’t you the one who had her baptized?” “Well, well, well, yes,” the father stumbled. “And didn’t you take her to Sunday school when she was a little girl?” “Well, well, yes.” “And didn’t you allow your daughter to go on those youth group ski trips to Colorado when she was in high school?” “Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?” replied the father, becoming more and more aggravated. “Sir,” Willimon concluded, “you are the reason she is throwing it all away. You introduced her to Jesus. Not me!” “But,” said the father, “all we wanted was a Presbyterian.” Willimon replied, “Well, sorry sir, you messed up. You’ve gone and made a disciple.”

–shared by my coworker Craige Borrett in the morning sermon and one of my favorite Willimon stories

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Children, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Haiti, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

(LA Times) Why this West Point graduate cried during his commencement

The tears streamed down Alix Idrache’s face. In the photograph, the streaks reach almost to the high collar of his gray dress uniform.

The moment, captured by a military photographer Saturday during commencement exercises at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., marked the culmination of a journey that began in 2009, when Idrache came to Maryland from his native Haiti, barely able to speak English.

Now 24, he graduated at the top of his class in physics, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army, and is headed to Alabama to train as a helicopter pilot.

Read it all and absolutely, positively do not miss the picture.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Caribbean, Defense, National Security, Military, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Haiti, Theology, Young Adults

Congratulations to Jamaica who Beat the United States in tonight's Gold Cup Semi-Final

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Caribbean, Jamaica, Men, Sports

USA beats Cuba 6-0 in CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals

Clint Dempsey scored on a fourth-minute header, added a pair of second-half goals for his first international hat trick, and the United States routed Cuba 6-0 on Saturday to reach its eighth straight CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal.

Dempsey converted a penalty kick early in the second half and added a late goal to raise his tournament-leading total to six. Dempsey’s 57 international goals are 10 behind Landon Donovan’s American record.

Gyasi Zardes, Aron Johannsson and Omar Gonzalez also scored as the Americans built a 4-0 halftime lead against a Cuban team depleted by five absent players who may have defected.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Caribbean, Cuba, Men, Sports

(Economist) The unusual faith of Santería is growing in Cuba

A sharp-eyed visitor to Havana and other Cuban cities will notice some odd things: the carcasses of birds strewn at intersections, insignias consisting of a single eye and dagger affixed to doorways and displayed in taxis, people dressed head to toe in white. All are emblems of Santería, a religion with roots in the culture of Yoruba slaves who came to Cuba from Nigeria from the early 18th century. After a period of suppression, it appears to be making a comeback.

Santería is a blending of the Yoruba religion, which acknowledges 401 orishas, or deities, with the Catholicism of the Spanish colonisers. Although at least 60% of Cubans today call themselves Catholics, far fewer are regular churchgoers. Many see no reason not to incorporate Santería rituals into their spiritual lives. A Catholic priest will marry a couple, but a santero might foretell their destiny and, later on, counsel them on how to revive their flagging sex life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Caribbean, Cuba, Globalization, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Ang. Journal) Cuban synod votes to return to the Episcopal Church

Members of synod for the Episcopal Church of Cuba narrowly voted in favour of returning to the church’s former affiliation with The Episcopal Church at their recent meeting last month in Cardenas, Cuba.

The move came two months after the historic decision by the United States and Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations after a 54-year hiatus. The Cuban church had been part of a province in The Episcopal Church until the 1959 revolution, which made travel and communication between the two churches difficult. The Metropolitan Council of Cuba (MCC)””which includes primates of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Province of West Indies and The Episcopal Church””was subsequently created to provide support and oversight.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary, attended the synod””which ran from Feb. 19 to 22””as representatives of the MCC.

Hiltz said the vote on that resolution, which was 39 in favour and 33 against, showed that the synod was divided on the issue. “When the results of the vote were announced, there was just absolute silence,” he said. “There were some people that were feeling a sense of victory and others who were feeling a real sense of loss.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Caribbean, Cuba, Episcopal Church (TEC), Politics in General, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Theodore Holly

Most gracious God, by the calling of thy servant James Theodore Holly thou gavest us our first bishop of African-American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led thy people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom thou callest from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Church History, Haiti, Spirituality/Prayer

Pres. Obama moves to normalize relations with Cuba as American is released by Havana

President Obama announced sweeping changes to U.S. policy with Cuba on Wednesday, moving to normalize relations with the island nation and tear down the last remaining pillar of the Cold War.

Under the new measures, the United States plans to reopen its embassy in Havana and significantly ease restrictions on travel and commerce within the next several weeks and months, Obama said. Speaking from the White House, he declared that a half-century of isolation of the communist country “has not worked.”

“It’s time for a new approach,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Caribbean, Cuba, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Theology

Funeral fashion Caribbean-style – BBC World Service

Photographer Charlie Phillips talks to Dan Damon about the rituals and fashions of Afro-Caribbean funerals in London. Starting with the Windrush generation in the 1950s to today. Charlie’s work will be published in the book ‘How Great Thou Art’. The title for this book is borrowed from the popular hymn sung at funerals.

Watch the whole Youtube clip.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Theodore Holly

Most gracious God, by the calling of thy servant James Theodore Holly thou gavest us our first bishop of African-American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led thy people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom thou callest from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Church History, Haiti, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Bonhoeffer-Inspired cuban Pastor Arrested After Blogs, Tweets, and D.C. Trip

Travel keeps getting easier for Cuba’s surging Christian community even as practicing their faith keeps getting harder. Case in point: Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, a Cuban Baptist pastor who once appeared on CT’s cover and has since become a Bonhoeffer-inspired activist blogger.

Last fall, Lleonart Barroso made an unusually high-profile trip to Washington, D.C., visiting the Congressional Caucus on Religious Freedom and issuing a 30-point challenge to his Communist government. Last weekend, he found his house in central Cuba surrounded by security police, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Security agents quickly seized the pastor as his wife and two children watched from inside the house.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Cuba, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Heartwarming Pittsburgh area story–Groups rally to reunite dying patient with his family

In the past three weeks, Charlton Fisher went from wanting to die to wanting desperately to live.

From his bed at Forbes Hospice, Mr. Fisher, a maintenance worker from Jamaica whose heart is nearly nonfunctional, made a dying wish — to see his wife, Marion, and daughters, Ashley, 11, and Asha-kay, 3, one last time.

The anticipation of their visit from Jamaica and Saturday night’s reunion has revived Mr. Fisher. Where on Dec. 31, his first day in hospice care, his skin was gray and he was unable to stand up or talk without sacrificing too much energy, on Sunday he was walking around, slow and weak, but improved.

That’s not the typical trajectory of a hospice patient.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Jamaica, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

Tom Speelman–Oscar Hijuelos RIP

At the end of…[the party], though, after most of the guests had gone home, my sister had gone to sleep after marathoning all then-7 of the Harry Potter films the night before and my folks were busy chatting with my aunt and uncle, I headed to the stack of my new books and, almost at random, chose one of the titles from my American Literature survey course: Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos.

I read the book in most of 2 days, instantly captivated by the story of a man, himself an orphan, trying to put his life back together after the murder of his aspiring priest son, and thinking back over the story of his own life as a honorary member of New York’s Cuban community of the 40s and ’50s, despite not really being Cuban himself; a simple story, Hijuelos captured it in poetic, delicate writing that painting broad, vibrant brushstrokes in your head.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Caribbean, Cuba, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

(WINN FM) Anglican Church in the Caribbean: No to Same Sex Marriage

The Head of the Anglican Church in St. Kitts and Nevis Archdeacon Valentine Hodge is making it clear that the Church does not support gay marriage, or condone a homosexual lifestyle.

“I can only speak…on the behalf of the Anglican Church which is the church in the province of the West Indies”¦um at the moment we cannot marry in church two people of the same sex…We believe in indissoluble monogamous marriage that is something which should last for life.. indissoluble.. and, we also believe that it is something between a man and a woman,” the Archdeacon said, speaking on WINN FM’s Breakfast Show Thursday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Caribbean, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture, West Indies

A NY Times profile of Angel Silva, practicer of Palo Mayombe, an African-Caribbean religion

Each morning, to summon the spiritual energy to activate the crystals and heal another wave of New Yorkers, he prays to spirits of nature and of his ancestors. On Wednesday morning, he swigged from a gallon jug of gin and spewed a mouthful of it in a sputtering mist over the shrine as an offering.

“They love gin ”” it revives them,” he said, and then he lighted candles, rang bells and chanted prayers in Spanish to the spirits.

“I just told them I’m going to heal in Union Square today, and I asked the spirits to enter this stone so they could come with me,” he said, putting the stone in his pocket. Then the self-described witch doctor grabbed his skateboard and headed to the N train to reach Union Square in time for the lunch crowd.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Caribbean, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Jamaican Anglican Bishop calls for free press with guts

Aanglican Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Rt Rev Dr Howard Gregory, is suggesting that the media have more to offer.

“While we expect the media to be truthful in reflecting what is happening in our midst, I submit that the journalistic community has a significant role to play in the shaping of our society,” he said. Gregory said the view that media only reflect what is going on is a cop-out.

“If the journalistic community is simply going to reflect the dynamics and values of society, then we are in deep trouble.” Speaking at the World Press Freedom Day Forum at The Knutsford Court Hotel on Thursday, Bishop Gregory said a spirit of individualism is permeating societies and institutions of governance and commerce are taking more control over citizens’ lives. He said there seems to be no exploration of the values which are informing the decisions being made and the extent they influence society’s choices.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Ethics / Moral Theology, Jamaica, Media, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AP) US tries new aerial tools in Caribbean drug fight

Drug smugglers who race across the Caribbean in speedboats will typically jettison their cargo when spotted by surveillance aircraft, hoping any chance of prosecuting them will vanish with the drugs sinking to the bottom of the sea.

That may be a less winning tactic in the future. The U.S. Navy on Friday began testing two new aerial tools, borrowed from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, that officials say will make it easier to detect, track and videotape drug smugglers in action.

One of the devices on display aboard the High Speed Vessel Swift is a large, white balloon-like craft known as an aerostat, which is tethered up to 2,000 feet (600 meters) above the ship’s stern. The other tool on board for tests in the Florida Straits is a type of drone that can be launched by hand from the deck.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Caribbean, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Science & Technology

Amnesty International says Tens of thousands face eviction from Haiti camps

Some dodge the stones and bottles thrown at their tents in the dead of night, others watch helplessly as their tarpaulin shelters, huddled in camps sprawled across the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, are destroyed with knives and sticks.

Rights group Amnesty International has collected dozens of such testimonies from Haitians who have been kicked out of makeshift camps set up by those left homeless by the January 2010 earthquake. Many camp residents have moved out, but just over 320,000 Haitians still live in them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Haiti, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Poverty

(The Economist) The rich world's economy–The gift that goes on giving

The holiday season is a time for expansive thoughts, and not just about waistlines. It allows people time to step back from the daily grind and think about how they could do things differently. Has lack of imagination blinded them to simple solutions? With a little effort, could they make 2013 a lot better?

For the rich world’s governments, the answer is yes. We offer three ways to improve confidence and increase growth in what otherwise looks like being a pretty bleak year. Regular readers will not be astonished to hear that all three involve trade liberalisation. This is, indeed, a theme we have returned to with some frequency since this newspaper was set up in 1843 to oppose Britain’s protectionist Corn Laws. But the gains to be had from sluggish rich countries opening their borders to each other’s goods and services look enticing. The world is less integrated than most people realise. And trade also offers a chance for liberal democracies to re-establish their credentials as the world’s guides towards prosperity.

According to the IMF, in 2013 America’s economy may grow by around 2%, Japan’s and Britain’s by 1% or so, and the euro zone’s will be lucky to grow at all. Policymakers in each of these economies could do plenty of things to improve this dour prognosis, but most involve unappealing choices. A further monetary boost may help add zip to the recovery, but risks producing asset bubbles. More fiscal expansion could help growth but could weigh governments down with extra debt.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Caribbean, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, Japan

(AP) Plans to rebuild Haiti's cathedral begin to form

Almost three years after an earthquake toppled the Roman Catholic and Episcopal cathedrals in Haiti’s capital, visions for their resurrection have started to take shape as officials from both churches begin considering proposals to rebuild them.

A six-member panel led by the dean of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture met this week in South Florida to choose the winner of a design competition that sought ideas for rebuilding the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Cathedral.

Meanwhile, Episcopal Church officials have selected a Virginia-based architectural firm to design a new Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Episcopal Church (TEC), Haiti, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

(AP) Islam making inroads in Haiti since devastating 2010 earthquake

School teacher Darlene Derosier lost her home in the 2010 earthquake that devastated her country. Her husband died a month later after suffering what she said was emotional trauma from the quake. She and her two daughters now live in tents outside Haiti’s capital, surrounded by thousands of others made homeless and desperate by the disaster.

What has helped pull her through all the grief, she said, has been her faith, but not of the Catholic, Protestant or even Voodoo variety that have predominated in this island country. Instead, she has converted to a new religion here, Islam, and built a small neighborhood mosque out of cinderblocks and plywood, where about 60 Muslims pray daily.

Islam has won a growing number of followers in this impoverished country, especially after the catastrophe two years ago that killed about 300,000 people and left millions more homeless.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Haiti, Islam, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(CNS) Pope reviews trip to Mexico, Cuba, says religious freedom is needed

Pope Benedict XVI said that during his recent journey to Mexico and Cuba, he experienced “unforgettable days of joy and hope.”

While he went as “a witness of Jesus Christ,” it was also an opportune occasion to call for reform, especially in allowing greater religious freedom, he said.

At his weekly general audience April 4 in St. Peter’s Square, the pope told an estimated 11,000 pilgrims and visitors about his March 23-28 visit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Pope Calls for ”˜Authentic Freedom’ in Cuba

Beneath looming images of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the Virgin Mary, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday stood in Revolution Square here, the heart of the Castro government, and issued a ringing call for “authentic freedom” in what is consistently ranked as one of the most repressive nations on earth.

“The truth is a desire of the human person, the search for which always supposes the exercise of authentic freedom,” Benedict said in his homily at an outdoor Mass here, a line greeted by smiles from some in the crowd. “Many, however, prefer shortcuts, trying to avoid this task.”

The Mass was the culmination of a three-day visit to Cuba meant to shore up support for the Roman Catholic Church here. With President Raúl Castro sitting in the front row ”” and a day after a top Cuban official said that Cuba would not pursue political change any time soon ”” Benedict also decried “those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in ”˜their truth,’ and try to impose it on others.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Cuba, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic