In a ceremony joined by President Raul Castro, Cuba's Catholic bishops recently inaugurated the San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary, the country's first major church-related construction in the half century since the Communist revolution.
Joined by Cuba's bishops and representatives of the Vatican and of the Catholic Church in the United States, Mexico, Italy, and the Bahamas,Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino noted that the late Pope John Paul II blessed the first stone of the new seminary at a Mass during his January, 1998 visit to the island.
At that point, then-President Fidel Castro pledged his support for the project, the cardinal said. "That promise has been faithfully completed," he said, adding his thanks to the Castros, "that this work was completed properly with the help of the state."
Catholic News Service reports that the opening of San Carlos and San Ambrosio takes place at a time of marked improvement in relations between the Catholic Church and the state, after 50 years of ups and downs.
Analysts describe the current situation as "more relaxed," since a dialogue process that began with a meeting in May between Raul Castro, Cardinal Ortega and Santiago Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez, president of the Cuban bishops' conference.