Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami (and, btw, why is the archbishop of Miami surnamed "Wenski?"), who is as much Cardinal Ortega's collaborator as the Cuban primate is Raúl Castro's, has announced that the late Bishop Agustín Román bequeathed $60,000 in his will to the Diocese of Matanzas, headed by Bishop Manuel Hilario de Céspedes y García-Menocal. Bishop Céspedes is the younger brother of the notorious Msgr. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, former chancellor of the Havana Archdiocese and Secretary of the Cuban Conference of Bishops. This Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the great-great grandson of the Father of Our Country, would be the black sheep of any family. An Epicurean rather than a Catholic (not that the two are incompatible in practice), Céspedes drives a Mercedes-Benz and owes a multimillion dollar art collection acquired after 1959 by exploiting the misfortunes of his ertswhile social equals. His worst crime as a Cuban and as a priest, however, was to inform against Father Miguel Angel Loredo, who spent 10 years in prison as a "counter-revolutionary" because Céspedes resented his popularity and viewed him as a potential rival. (It would be impossible to summarize in a few words the utter vileness of the elder Céspedes. I did try once, however, in a thousand words in the Review of Cuban-American Blogs. His picture, included there, is at least worth another thousand).
The younger brother was an electrical engineer when the elder convinced him, at age 36, to enter a seminary. Rev. Manuel de Céspedes was created a bishop shortly after having been ordained a priest. Interestingly, the elder Céspedes was never elevated to the episcopacy, which may have something to do with his open co-habitation with a "dear friend." Or perhaps his sin was to be unapologetic about his personal conduct. He once wrote an article for a church publication [Palabra Nueva, indeed!] advocating civil unions for homosexuals and greater tolerance within the church for their "rights." The article, published in the July-August 2007 issue, long ago disappeared from the digital archives of the magazine and now Msgr. Céspedes is restricted to writing paeans to "Ché" Guevara in Granma, where he regrets that he never met the Argentine psychopath and homophobe, which is like a Jew regretting having never made Hitler's acquaintance.
The Bishop of Matanzas keeps a much lower public profile than does his brother. Bishop Román's posthumous gift of $60,000 to the younger Céspedes' diocese is certainly less controversial than if he had left it to Cardinal Ortega, who, nonetheless, may have ultimate control of it. I do not know the reason for this gift. According to Wenski, it is not the first gift by Román to the Cuban Church, though it is certainly the first to be publicized. I do not doubt that Wenski himself contributes a good share of the tithes from Cuban exiles to the support Cardinal Ortega and the other Cuban bishops. Perhaps by publicizing Bishop Román's largesse Wenski hopes to justify his own conduct as well as to encourage exiles to open their purses to Castro's mitered apologists and to the Church that sanctions their betrayal of the Cuban people in some kind of perverse tribute to Román. Ultimately, however, it is exiles in Miami who are responsible for both their indirect donations to the anti-Cuban Church and their indirect donations to the anti-Cuban State. An exile blog unconditionally opposed to sending remittances to Cuba nonetheless hailed this biggest of all remittances to date as a humanitarian gesture deserving of commendation. Such may have been its intent but such is not its effect.
Although Bishop Román was a revered figure in the Cuban exile community, who never lent aid and comfort to the Castro regime, before or after the triumph of the Revolution, I will not make apologies for Román that I wouldn't make for Wenski. In fact, since Román knew infinitely more about the reality of life in Cuba under Castro than Wenski will ever know let alone acknowledge, it is even more inexcusable for him to enrich a Church that has cast its lot with Christ's enemies in Cuba. If he did not know or could not accept this fact, then he is guilty, at the very least, of self-delusion. Reality has thrust its sharp edges into all our lives for 53 years. Delusion at this juncture is not only inexcusable but culpable.
Surely Román's life savings of $60,000 could have been put to better and more honorable use. He could have destined the money for a radio campaign in Miami to discourage congregants from donating one cent to the Catholic Church until it repudiates its unholy alliance with the Castro dynasty. That, of course, would have required a degree of moral greatness which is so rare that it could be called saintly. Still, even short of this, there is much good that he could have done with the money: perhaps used it to feed and house the Cuban political prisoners who were forcibly deported to Spain with the collusion of Cardinal Ortega and abandoned there; or to provide health insurance for the 300 elderly survivors of the Bay of Pigs, who, though practically destitute, refuse to accept U.S. veterans' benefits because they were volunteer soldiers in the service of a free Cuba, not paid mercenaries or a supernumerary brigade of the U.S. Army. He could have established a Human Rights Prize with the money, which could honorably have borne his name. Built a monument to the 15,000 Cubans who died with the cry of ¡Viva Cristo Rey!" on their lips. He could have acknowledged, in death as in life, his commitment to the cause of Cuban freedom. Instead, Bishop Agustín Román threw his bread in a stagnant and festering mud hole.