Author: Ramon Luzarraga

This Year in Cuba? The Coming Agony and Obligation of Reconciliation.

  “La patria es agonia y deber.”/”The homeland is agony and duty.”  — Jose Marti Every year on Christmas, New Year’s Day, or other days of family or public celebration, many Cuban families who went into exile following the 1959 Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power toast with the phrase “Next Year in Cuba.”  The events that began December 17th of 2014, initiated by the announcement of President Barack Obama of secret negotiations with the Cuban government to normalize relations, negotiations encouraged and helped along by Pope Francis, has led to speculation that 2015 is that “next year”.  However, “next year” will not be marked by Cuban exiles returning to a Cuba liberated from Communism, nor Cuba’s government marking a triumph over their adversaries in the United States.  Instead, this negotiation between Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro is an attempt to move beyond what most agree is a foreign policy stalemate.  What may follow is the subject of a range of emotions and thoughts ranging from optimism (perhaps exaggerated) of greater freedom to travel between the U.S. and Cuba with greater cultural and economic exchange, to pessimism that the United States is being played for fools by the Castro brothers and the Cuban Communist government yet again. Most Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits and scholars who work on Cuba knew some kind of change...

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To be a Gentleman: One Reply to Meghan Clark

Over the past year, our colleague Meghan Clark has made a series of posts concerning the growing cultural tolerance, even acceptance, of violence against women; in particular against girls and young women by boys and men.  The world she describes, which has deteriorated to the point of having a growing culture of rape in many places in society, is alien and truly terrifying to me. These incidents should be incentive alone to push back against this expanding culture of anti-female violence Meghan speaks of, not only to bring justice to victims and prevent more women and girls from becoming...

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Discernment for Evangelization

When I volunteered to comment on Pope Francis’ interview with his brother Jesuits, I was in the midst of preparing for a broadcast on Immaculate Heart Radio in Phoenix on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.  This was a fortuitous confluence of tasks.  I begin this post with a recommendation that all readers read the Spiritual Exercises before reading or re-reading Pope Francis’ interview.  It is a truism to say that the interview reveals a man fully formed in Jesuit spirituality.  Reading the Exercises gives the reader the key to interpret this interview.  The interview reveals neither a “liberal” or “lax” pope nor a “conservative” or “tough” pope. Instead, our pope is someone formed to find people where they are, help and work with them to discern their need for God and becoming the human being they ought to be through accompanying them to the goal all Catholics must share: to know God. Media coverage of the interview, which has focused on his supposedly controversial remarks of “pulling back” from specific ethical teachings of the Church is not him going lax, but his putting those teachings in their proper context.  They are constituent elements of a body of Catholic ethical thought, which must never be confused with the whole of Catholic teaching. Readers of this blog know well that moral excellence is an essential but by no means...

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Faith is Never Blind: One Corrective Reminder from Lumen Fidei

A common and tragically mistaken assumption all-too-many people make when seeking to understand the nature and practice of faith is that it is blind.  Lumen Fidei, the encyclical begun by Pope Benedict XVI and completed by Pope Francis, thus making it the latter’s first encyclical, directly addresses this mistake.  (An aside is in order.  Reading the encyclical, one is readily tempted to the admittedly fun exercise to debate who wrote what, but that is ultimately a distraction from the topic it addresses.)  When unbelievers critique religion in general and the Catholic faith in particular, one of their chief attacks is how faith is practiced without any reason to believe or despite overwhelming reasons to the contrary.  Often, they will quote Christians, including those in ministry, who proudly boast of their faith in God as the exercise of a blind, uninformed, trust.  In Lumen Fidei, two popes provide an ethic for the proper understanding and responsible practice of faith.  Primary in an authentic Christian understanding of faith is that it is never blind.  The encyclical’s survey of what faith is reveals that those who say faith is blind don’t understand the Christian theological tradition; and that includes wrongheaded interpretations of the Bible on the subject. Perhaps the main reason faith is often misunderstood to be blind is centered on how we practice the faith in face of the mystery of...

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