back at their critics this week, saying that the Cuban press had "slandered" them after they published a pastoral letter calling for political change to save the country from collapse.
The Cuban Bishops' Conference said in a statement last week that the press had used a "strong dose of aggression" to attack the hierarchy.
The statement said the media had overreacted to a document which they said had expressed the truth about Cuba's problems in calm, sober terms.
The statement was the bishops' first public reaction to a series of articles in the state-run media that were highly critical of their pastoral letter.
"We reject totally, as slanderous, the serious accusations being made against us of betrayal of the nation, of favouring a "bloodbath" in our country, of entering into alliances abroad, of wanting colonial times restored, or of favouring an annexation of Cuba by the United States", the statement said.
Articles in the Cuban press accused the bishops of wanting to return to pre-revolutionary social injustices and one critic said it was as if they were "trying to administer the last sacrament to Cuban socialism".
The statement was issued last Thursday, just before Archbishop Jaime Ortega of Havana and his colleagues on the bishops' conference permanent committee flew to Rome to meet with Vatican officials.
The Cuban bishops denied allegations that the Vatican or the Apostolic nunciature was behind the pastoral letter, saying it was entirely tiheir own initiative.
Despite the campaign in a state-run media, there has been, as yet, almost no comment by government officials on the bishops' letter.