On Tuesday, Alejandro Castro’s regime forced the departure of the superior of the Society of Jesus on the island, the Dominican David Pantaleón, by not renewing his residence permit for foreigners.
According to sources close to the Catholic Church, the Cuban authorities decided not to renew this document after asking him to control the critical political comments of the Jesuit personnel on the island and Pantaleón did not agree.
The Cuban regime has not reported on the situation of Pantaleón, who also served as president of the Cuban Conference of Religious (CONCUR). Neither the Cuban Catholic Church nor the Society of Jesus have positioned themselves for the moment.
Pantaleón has already definitively abandoned Cuba.
This decision of the communist regime will be justified as always by Pope Francis, a Jesuit by training, who a few months ago recognized a “human relationship” with the Cuban dictator Raúl Castro with whom he maintains communication.
“I love the Cuban people very much. I had good human relations with Cuban people and I also confess it: with Raúl Castro I have a human relationship. I was happy when that little agreement was reached with the United States that President Obama wanted at the time, and Raúl Castro accepted it and it was a good step forward but it has stopped now”.
At the beginning of this year, the authorities had informed Pantaleón that his residence permit, which is annual and valid for the calendar year, was not going to be renewed. Subsequent attempts by the superior of the Jesuits to obtain the permit were in vain. Pantaleón then left Cuba temporarily, to return shortly after with a three-month visa that expired this September.
The Dominican priest had positioned himself politically on a few occasions. The most prominent was when he asked the authorities, along with other religious, to be allowed to bring aid to the activists of the San Isidro Movement, on hunger strike since the end of 2020. The request was denied.
“This is not about left or right ideologies. It is about things as simple as the right to live, to express what one thinks, to discuss differences without ‘demonizing’ the opposite, to respect the dignity of all,” Pantaleón wrote on Facebook at the time.
Other members of the congregation have positioned themselves more openly in recent months, especially in the wake of the repression of the July 11 protests, the largest in decades, and the subsequent court sentences of up to 30 years in prison.
Several people from the Catholic Church have expressed their regret over the departure of the Jesuit superior, such as his partner in CONCUR, Ariagna Brito Rodríguez, from the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha in Cuba.
“This should not happen. Those who must leave the country are those who use power to live like kings, at the expense of a slave people, punished, whipped and forced to flee,” Brito wrote on Facebook.
Pantaleón officiated his last mass in Cuba last Sunday, which was presided over by the Archbishop and Cardinal of Havana, Juan García Rodríguez.
The Society of Jesus is one of the largest organizations of the Catholic Church on the island, it operates parishes and educational centers and has some 300 workers throughout the country.