The Pope has said nein to meeting with leaders of Cuba’s Santeria community when he visits the island this month. The 84-year-old pontiff, (who looks exactly like the Emperor from “Star Wars” BTW), is traveling to the commie run island later this month on a goodwill tour. Apparently, he doesn’t have any good will towards the Santeros. When his predecessor, John Paul II, visited Cuba in 1998 he didn’t meet with the Santeros either, though he did talk to leaders of Cuba’s Orthodox, Jewish, and Protestant faiths. The reason he won’t see the Santeros is because “It is not a church in the traditional sense.”
It’s true that it isn’t a church in a traditional sense, but it is the dominant religion in Cuba. 80% of Cubans practice some form of Afro-Cuban religion, be it Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Voudon, etc. Santeria doesn’t have a “pope” figure, but it does have a strict hierarchy with powerful babalawo priests at the top of its religious pyramid. The pope could meet with these priests if he wanted to. The problem has to do with a lack of understanding. Santeria, and its sister religions, were born of the syncretism of Catholicism and the religions the Africans brought with them during the days of the slave trade. The pope probably sees Santeria as a bastardization of pure Catholic practice and not as its own religion.
The second problem is prejudice. Cubans of all colors practice Santeria, so it’s not racism. Rather, it’s the old school attitude of not taking so-called “primitive” religions seriously. Because it isn’t Western and it is not practiced in a specific building it’s not considered a religion. Only the “major religions” can be taken seriously. Although this viewpoint is seriously outdated, it seems to be the working model for the Church’s interaction with Santeria. Even though Santeros regularly go to church and incorporate the sacraments in their rituals. If the Church really wants to reach out to the Cuban people, they’d better learn the rhythm of the saints and get some beads on.
Via Fox News Latino.