Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

HAVANA, July 29, 1998, Cuba Free Press.

FORMER COMMUNIST, V. ROCA, FROM PRISON REQUESTS BAPTISM. By Ernestina Rosell, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - Vladimiro Roca Antunez, son of the late Blas Roca who was a founder of the Communist Party of Cuba, has requested the sacrament of baptism. Communist turned dissident. From atheist to Christian.

Roca, who remains in prison on charges related to the preparation of a dissident document, says he is not afraid to open his heart to Christ, as proposed by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Cuba earlier in this year. Roca and Marta Beatriz Roque, Gomez Manzano and Felix Bonne were likewise not afraid to write and subscribe to "The Motherland Belongs to All," a response critical of a Communist Party document last year.

Some observers say they doubt Roca's sincerity and some express surprise at his request. Many other report they are happy about his conversion which they consider truthful because Vladimiro took off the mask that hides the feelings of most Cubans a long time ago.

The writer can believe him because we learned from Saint Paul the apostle, who was Saul of Tarsus when he persecuted Christians, what a touch of divine grace is able to accomplish. We know it because Roca's act of giving himself to others -- a gesture which cost him jail -- is an act of love for his neighbors, according to the second of the 10 Christian commandments.

CATECHISM IN THE PRISONS: A BREAD REFUSED

The church is not allowed to preach in Cuban prisons. In addition to denying the material bread - due to the meager food rations given the prisoners - the jailers also ban what most consider the most important of all foods: the spiritual. Many Cubans consider this a grave error indeed, believing that the word of God could do good for many souls in need and could straighten many a twisted path.

It is not expected that the Church can baptize Vladimiro, but church leaders say that an open and repentant heart is the first step, indeed, the indispensable step to get close to God.

Churchgoers say they will pray for the grace of the highest, during each mass, for those who suffer prison so that God will shine upon them in the midst of the pain and barbarism in which they live...and sometimes die.

NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

Many observers say it is not surprising that in Cuba's present day society there appears an increased closeness of churchgoers to the Church. After the bishop's pastoral letter, "Love Waits for All," the number of people embracing the Catholic faith seems on the rise. This was the first notable reaction. The second followed the visit of Pope John Paul II.

The messages of love, faith, and understanding which was carried in each of these two events seemed to touch sensitive fibers in many Cuban souls. Thus it is no great surprise when conversions appear to be increasing.

Observers here say it may be some time before Vladimiro Roca reaches his goal, since tortuous indeed may be the paths which lead to the church. But, they add, "You will see, Vladimiro. Love can conquer all."

By Ernestina Rosell, Cuba Free Press.


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