Cuban authorities want to turn Russian church in Havana into a centre of Orthodoxy in the Carribeans

(Moscow, Interfax) The Cuban government supports a project to build a Russian Orthodox church in Havana, said Caridad Diego, head of the Cuban Communist Party Executive Committee’s department for religious issues.

The Cuban leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate made the decision to build the church two years ago, Diego told a news conference in Moscow on Thursday.

However, the best ideas were articulated during a recent meeting between Cuban President Fidel Castro and Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kyrill, she said. “It was decided to build not just a church for Cuban Russian Orthodox believers, but a large cathedral, where Russian Orthodox priests will be trained not only for Cuba, but for the whole Caribbean Basin and Latin America,” she said.

“It is no secret that the construction of the Russian cathedral will become a symbol of friendship and cooperation between our nations,” she said.

The Russian Orthodox community in Cuba has expanded in recent years and amounts to several thousand people, she said.

A great number of Russian Orthodox believers gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony and on Russian Christmas day, and a concert hall near the site of the future cathedral “was packed with Russian Orthodox believers,” she said.

“Not only Russian men and women residing in Cuba, but also Ukrainians and Byelorussian – all Slavs professing Orthodoxy – came to celebrate the holiday,” she said.

The community is expanding mostly due to the increasing number of Russian Orthodox families and children being brought up in Orthodox traditions, she said.