There has been some online comment about the Mass offered in Havana's Cathedral for the recovery of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Apparently, it was offered by the Papal Nuncio at a Mass concelebrated by Cardinal Ortega of Cuba and with leading Cuban and Venezuelan representatives in the congregation.
For those who don't know, Snr Chavez has been undergoing treatment for cancer in Cuba and, whilst he claims to be on the road to recovery, things are obviously not wonderful for him.
There have been some pretty malicious comments made about the Church for offering the Mass and about atheists wanting the Mass said (I suppose Snr Chavez's personal insistence that he is a Christian doesn't get any credence).
Unlike quite a few of my friends, I actually have no time at all for Hugo Chavez; I believe him to be the worst kind of populist and that he is determined to destroy the feeble democracy that exists in Venezuela by rigging the elections in favour of himself and his supporters in the legislature. Also, his lauding of the appalling Mr Ahmadinejad of Iran does not encourage one to warm to him.
Also, unlike a lot of my friends, I am not a great fan of former president Fidal Castro either, pointing out to them the oppression he has visited upon those who oppose him. I do hope that true freedom will be granted in Cuba, but I remain totally unconvinced.
However, why does that mean a Mass cannot be offered for the recovery of Snr Chavez? Many of the negative comments that have been made are from self-identifying Christians so where do they stand on the instructions of Christ when, in His great teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, He tells us:
You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy", but I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Or what of the entreaty of St Paul, in his beautiful teaching about love being genuine in his Letter to the Romans:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
I understand the hurt people feel at what Hugo Chavez has done but, in the words of an old lady who asked for a Mass to be said for the soul of Henry VIII, "If anybody needs our prayers, he does."