HOLY SEE MAY EXCOMMUNICATE FIDEL CASTRO
THE formal excommunication of Dr. Fidel Castro, the Prime Minister of Cuba, may be expected soon, a,drding to a source close to the Cuban Hierarchy. This was reported last Saturday shortly after Dr. Castro had made a bitter attack on 80-year-old Cardinal Arteaga y IRetancourt in a three-and-a-half hour television speech.
And on Tuesday Dr. Castro as good as challenged the Church authorities to excommunicate him.
He warned them that they would have to excommunicate " the revolutionary Government and the people of Cuba " if they excommunicated a pro-revolutionary priest who has been suspended by the Church—presumably a reference to Fr. German Lence, who is on record as stating that every good Christian must support Dr. Castro's revolution Fr. Lence has, in fact, been excommunicated by the Cuban Hierarchy. The Times" reported on Wednesday that a spokesman for the Church in Havana had confirmed this.
The last Latin American political leader to be formally excommunicated was President Juan Peron of Argentina, who was excommunicated by decree of the Vatican in June, 1955, following a series of measures aimed at the Church, culminating in the dismissal and deportation of the auxiliary bishop and of the Vicar General of Buenos Aires.
President Perdn's excommunication was followed three months later by his fall from power. But this precedent should not give rise to undue optimism in the case of Cuba, since Peron had been in power for ten years when his regime was overthrown In his speech last Saturday Dr Castro did not mention Cardinal Artcaga by name. but said: " When the bloody tyrant [Batista] needed His Excellency . . His Excellency was there in the bloodstained corrupt palace of the tyrant Dr. Castro also accused the Hierarchy of large-scale falsehoods in the recent open letter to the Government in which they lamented the anti-Catholic and pro-Communist attitude shown by the Teo i me. ""lhe Government has no account to render to the bishops as far as the Communist problem is concerned," said Dr. Castro. " We believe that to be anti-Communist is to be anti-Catholic, antiProtestant, anti-everything, for this has as its aim dividing the nation . . which is what the Church is seeking in playing the imperialist game." The revolution had no quarrel with good priests, continued the Cuban Premiar, but only with the Catholic Hierarchy allied to Francoism and imperialism. The Cuban revolution did not want any conflict with the Church, hut, in case of necessity, it knew how to take the appropriate severe measures. Dr. Castro's attack on the Cardinal was described as "brutal and uncalled for' by Bishop Boza Masdival