The Meaning of Reconciliation

Saturday, May 5, 2012
By Yale University Professor Carlos Eire in Babalu Blog:

Here is the crux of the problem: in all of this talk about “reconciliation,” there is little or no talk of repentance or conversion on the part of the authorities in Cuba who are responsible for all of the deep wounds and divisions inflicted on the Cuban people. There is also no mention made of the fact that the creation of two separate Cuban communities – one in exile and one on the island – has been caused by individuals who have no desire to change, much less to repent of their behavior. Most Cubans in both communities have no ill will towards one another and, in fact, need no “reconciliation” at all. Our divisions are not some family feud, but rather the result of the sinful behavior of those who hijacked our nation and turned it into a totalitarian nightmare.

Genuine “reconciliation” in the full Catholic meaning of the term is never unconditional: it requires genuine repentance on the part of all involved, and especially on the part of those who are guilty of sin. When exiles bristle at the mention of “reconciliation” by prelates, then, it is not because they are stiff-necked troglodytes unwilling to love their brethren, but because the word is being used incorrectly. What we are being asked to accept and embrace totally is not our own brethren on the island , with most of whom we have no quarrel and for whom we actually weep. What we are being asked to embrace unconditionally is the godless criminal government that has killed and tortured thousands of us, stolen everyone’s property, deprived us all of our most basic human rights, and is not the least bit willing to repent, make amends, or change its behavior.

Restoring the Miami-Havana ferry and embracing the Castroite status quo is not genuine reconciliation. Far from it.

What is being bandied about as "reconciliation" lately is similar to asking someone whose family is being held captive, tortured, and raped every single day to ignore the torturing and raping, embrace the fiends responsible for all the evil, and allow them to continue abusing their loved ones. In such a case, no reconciliation is possible. In fact, "reconciliation" -- as currently invoked by some Catholic prelates -- would mean tolerance of the cruelty of unrepentant sinners and a betrayal of one's family.

Genuine reconciliation between Cubans will only be possible under two conditions. First and foremost, when the autocratic rulers of Castrolandia repent and free the Cuban people. Until that happens, a second condition is absolutely necessary: the correct usage of the word “reconciliation” by bishops.

In sum, if the leaders of the Catholic Church want Cubans to reconcile, they should lead the way by not speaking of “reconciliation” so carelessly, and in such a divisive way.