PATRIARCH KIRILL CALLS FIDEL CASTRO SINCERE FRIEND OF RUSSIAN CHURCH
Interfax-Religiia, 27 November 2016
The patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus acknowledge that he will always have fond memories of Fidel Castro, who was not only a legendary person but also a genuine friend of the Russian Orthodox Church.
"Comandante Fidel was one of the most famous and prominent state figures of the modern world, who won international authority and already during his lifetime became a legend. Being flesh of the flesh of the Cuban people, he directed all his efforts to gaining for his motherland genuine independence and take a place of honor in the world family of nations," the patriarchal condolences to the head of the State Council and government of Cuba, Raul Castro, say.
According to Patriarch Kirill, who was quoted by his press service, in the Russian Orthodox Church the name of Fidel Castro "is always pronounced with respect and gratitude." The church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God" was built in Havana with the personal participation of the Comandante, and, as the primate writes, "by his own personal statement Fidel acted as the 'commissar of construction.'"
"I keep warm memories of my meetings with Comandante Fidel. I have always been struck by the breadth and sharpness of his mind and his ability to speak knowledgably on the most diverse topics. Our last conversation occurred on 13 February of this year in his domestic residence, the day after my meeting with Roman Pope Francis," Patriarch Kirill writes.
"In my heart there is always preserved a good memory of this courageous and charismatic person who was a sincere friend of the Russian Orthodox Church," the letter says.
Words of sorrow for the death of F. Castro were also expressed by the head of the Roman Catholic Church, who called this event "sad news." "With a feeling of sorrow, I express condolences to the family of the deceased and also to the Cuban leadership and the beloved Cuban people," the pope writes.
F. Castro and his brother Raul were educated in a Jesuit college and the source of the transformations they initiated, as observers have noted, was Christian. After the death of their father, the brothers distributed their inheritance to the poor.
In his youth, the Comandante was carried away by ideas of revolution and socialism, but at the same time he actively promoted cooperation with believers in the struggle for a just society, once noting that "there are tens of thousands times more coincidences between Christianity and communism than between Christianity and capitalism," and a martyr for a religious idea is made "out of the very same material as a hero of the revolution."
However, Fidel Castro himself acknowledged that he "could not become a sincere believer and be imbued with religious faith," but instead he acquired "political faith."
In the mid-2000s Castro gave approval for construction of a Russian Orthodox cathedral in the center of Havana, which Cubans built with their own money.
In February of this year, an historic meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill was held in the Cuban capital. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 November 2016)
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