Archdiocese of Camaguey, Archbishopric, 24 September 2018: Many people are expressing their views on the 224 articles of the Draft Constitution drafted by the National Assembly. However, as a letter in the newspaper Adelante last Saturday 22 September points out, Article 68 “seems to be the obligatory stop in the discussions”. The reason is the change in relation to the current 1976 Constitution that defines marriage “as the voluntarily arranged union of a man and woman with legal aptitude for it, in order to make life in common”. The draft for the new Constitution under discussion proposes a substantial change in the definition of marriage that defines as ‘the voluntarily agreed union between two persons with legal aptitude for it, in order to make life in common”.
The article of the Forward provides a statistic: of the 2,374 meetings held until dawn on Friday 21st, there was only no intervention on Article 68 on 32. So, of the total discussions, the topic came out in 2,342 meetings, no less than 98.6 per cent. It is therefore something that worries and occupies our population. And there are many people, of our communities and not, of our families or, simply, unknown people with which one runs into Maceo Street, in the barbershop, at the entrance of the Red Star market who, seeing the neck of my priestly shirt and my pectoral cross, stop me to ask me, as shrewd journalists, what is the Church’s opinion on this issue. I have therefore decided to write down my opinion and what I reply to the one who asks me.
In principle, I liked that people are expressing freely about the article in question and about others. I believe that, as Christians, there are many more things in which we should give our opinions, our agreements, disagreements and suggestions. I note that people express their views without fear on thorny issues: the wage that is not enough, the possibility for parents to choose the education they would like for their children, etc. For us to think freely and without fear of reprisals is a good thing, even though we do not have much legal knowledge. I also think that a good part of the Members of the National Assembly do not have the legal knowledge mentioned. I reiterate that I am not a specialist in legal matters, but I give my opinion.
- I believe that every state, our State, must guarantee and enforce the rights of all its citizens. And that the Constitution must go in that line, as a fundamental law it is. They must have the same black and white rights, women and men, healthy and sick, of one religion or another, newborns and the elderly, of one province or another, cults and instills, heterosexuals and homosexuals, etc.
Speaking of the latter, I would like to mention something: I met two same-sex people who lived in the same house. Older people who gave everyone their respect and received affection from all their neighbors. No one had complaints about these people. Years after I thought they were born to the same parents, it was that I knew it was not family members, but “a couple.” Told the anecdote, I now turn to reflection: What will happen on the day when whoever owns the house where they live dies? How does the other party still alive look before the Law? It’s easy to answer: No legal protection. And if by chance a relative appears from whom he died to claim the material goods, he will leave with nothing those who lived by his side for many years. It will take you to the balances of the room.
It is there that, in my humble opinion, the National Assembly would have to act and find out what is done elsewhere about it. I have been told that in other countries (Colombia, Mexico, etc.) there is civil recognition of “de facto couples”. That is, the persons of the told anecdote may go to a legal entity or law firm and formalize their union before the Law. And with that, homosexual people will no longer be left unprotected. I even read that a number of rights are granted throughout the European Union even if the couple has not registered with any administration.
Of course, in the countries mentioned above, these unions are not called “marriage” but “de facto couples”, which is not the same. Marriage remains defined as the union of a man and a woman, while “de facto couples” are the unions between two people of the same sex.
May the current definition of marriage not be changed for our future Constitution, but that the possibility of implementing “de facto couples” will be explored. This would respect everyone’s rights.
As a Cuban and Catholic, I cannot forget that wise counsel that left us, on his visit to Cuba, today’s Holy Pope, St. John Paul II: “Cuba, take care of your families so that you may keep your heart healthy”. The truth is that, unfortunately, we have been attacking the family for some time in Cuba: Cuba was the first Latin American country to pass the divorce law, which came into force in July 1918 (exactly 100 years ago). Abortion, for its part, has been legal in Cuba since 1936. It is now intended to change the concept of marriage.
It is also true that laws have been passed in Cuba that protect the family: How good that in Cuba working women enjoy work facilities in the time of their motherhood! How good all the effort that is made to minimize infant mortality! I’m so sure vaccines are guaranteed for every child at birth! I’m so good that the law establishes equal rights between men and women! It’s good that our kids have free school and medical care! It’s good that our grandparents have their Nursing Homes, their Senior University, their Grandparent Circles, their physical exercises! I’m so sure many schools are already in cities where children can be closer to their parents’ gaze!
- But also… how good it would be if parents had a choice when choosing the kind of education they wanted for their children! How good it would be if the antinatalist mentality they have and by which they call the pregnant woman “crazy” was erased from the minds of many Cubans! How good it would be if the salary reached the worker so that the family can live worthily and without having to be “inventing” or “resolving”! How good it would be if divorces and abortions subsided, that food increased and had everyone’s financial reach! It’s hard for a ha ha haemorling now to cost three pesos and an avocado, fifteen or twenty! How good it would be if our young people were no longer given sexual instruction, that this is very easy, but that they will be educated for the healthy love between a man and a woman! How good it would be if every Cuban, before taking an option that will take him away from his family for two years or more, wondered if that could hurt his family, his marriage, his children, etc.! How good it would be if young couples could have their little house to form their own home and not have to live overcrowded with other families under one roof! How good it would be if exile no longer divides Cuban families! How good it would be if the criminal population in Cuba was reduced so that so many families with inmate relatives were relieved of their suffering! And not to mention it lastly, it’s because it’s the least important thing: How good it would be to convince our young people that rum, beer and drugs “invented” with pills destroy families and idiot people!
May we set out to bear witness to what true marriage is. May we have a love detail for families in difficulty: Are there people who live alone (why not invite them to eat with our family one of these days?). There are families who are trying to make a little jabita to take to the family member who is in jail (why not help them with something?). There are marriages that are at “the peak of the aura” (why not give them time to listen to them so that they can be counseled and saved?). There are families with financial or even material difficulties (could we do something to relieve them of that distress?). Surely we have co-workers or neighbors that we know do not take, do not talk, are not treated (how good it would be to do something to reconcile them!).
I don’t want to finish these ideas without talking about those who know how to take care of their family: The mothers and grandmothers who keep the little piece of chicken to invent a different little lunch on Sunday and gather the family around the same table… Grandparents who know how to mediate in the natural conflicts that arise between parents, children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law… Our elders, for their defense of the family, for the example of having had so many children with far fewer resources than they have today.
Finally, I believe that each of us Cubans should express our opinion on what is being discussed. And when polling day comes, vote YES or NO as your own conscience dictates.