60 years after the Marxist Revolution, the Cuban Catholic Church was able to open a new place of worship on January 26, 2019, in Sandino, a small city in the western province of Pinar del Rio.
Until the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union, Cuban Catholics had to practice their religion underground.
Wishing to break from his political isolation and still fascinated by the Catholic Church, Fidel Castro invited Pope John Paul II to Cuba for the first time in 1998. That same year, Christmas was allowed to be celebrated on the island.
The dictator’s brother, Raùl Castro, who has been in power since 2008, has pursued a policy of peace between Church and State, seeing her as a factor of stability compared to the Evangelical sects that are proliferating anarchically.
Raùl Castro even thanked Pope Francis in 2014 for helping Cuba to strengthen its diplomatic relations with the United States. The following year, construction began on the Sacred Heart Church of Sandino, funded by $100,000 from faithful in Florida.
60% of the island’s 11.1 million Cubans are Catholic, but only a minority of them practice. Cuba has 650 churches serviced by 340 priests and 600 religious.