Fidel Castro, the Catholic Church and Revolution in Cuba

  • Margaret Crahan
Part of the Latin American Studies Series book series (LASS)


In November 1959 over one million people gathered in Havana, Cuba, for a national Catholic congress. In a country long regarded as having the weakest Catholic Church in all of Latin America, the turnout was remarkable. 1 The message the organisers wanted to communicate was clear: namely, that Fidel Castro was not the only one capable of turning out massive numbers of supporters.2 A further objective of the meeting was to express Catholic support for social justice within a framework of liberal capitalism while rejecting communism.


Religious Freedom Church Leader Socialist Society Pastoral Letter Liberal Capitalism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    In 1960 church sources estimated that 70–75 per cent of Cubans were nominal Catholics, the lowest percentage in all Latin America. Protestants claimed three to six per cent of a total population of approximately 7 500 000. The Jewish community reportedly numbered 12 000 with most residing in Havana. Practising Catholics, defined by the Church as individuals who attended services four or more times a year, were thought to constitute only five to eight per cent of nominal Catholics. Other indices of loyalty to or involvement in the Catholic Church such as reception of the sacraments and participation in religious instructions or church groups were also low as compared to most other Latin American countries. Nevertheless, Christianity was a pervasive cultural presence, which helped mould normative values, as well as ideology. Religious appeals, as a consequence, helped mobilise some one million Cubans in late 1959 as political and social ferment grew in Cuba in the face of an increasingly radical revolution.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Claude Julien, ‘Church and State in Cuba: Development of a Conflict’, Cross Current?, XI, 2 (Spring 1961) p. 188.Google Scholar
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    Since 1979 the Catholic Church has reported an increase in the number of baptisms, church marriages and funerals, as well as an upsurge of popular religiosity. Don Shannon, ‘Church’s Impact on Latin Affairs Helps Its Position in Cuba’, Los Angeles Time? (25 May 1986) pp. 1–28.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Dermot Keogh 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Crahan

There are no affiliations available

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