“Comandante Fidel was one of the most well-known and prominent state figures of the present time, enjoyed international authority and became a legend when he was alive. He was from the flesh of the Cuban people and focused his force on gaining true independence for his Motherland and giving it a worthy place in the family of nations,” the patriarch said in his letter of condolences to the head of the Cuban State Council and government Raul Castro.
According to Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Church pronounces Castro’s name “with respect and gratitude.” The Church of Our Lady of Kazan in Havana was built with the comandante’s personal participation, and the primate writes that Fidel called himself “the commissioner of the building site.”
“I keep the warmest memoirs of my meetings with Comandante Fidel. I was always impressed by the grandeur and acuity of his mind, ability to speak competently on various topics,” Patriarch Kirill writes.
When he was young, the comandante was keen on the ideas of revolution and socialism, but he stood for cooperation with believers in struggle for the fair society and he once said that “there are ten thousand times more coincidences between Christianity and Communism than between Christianity and Capitalism,” and “a martyr for a religious idea” is made “of the same material as the revolutionary hero.”
However, Castro confessed that he “failed to become a true believer and adopt a religious faith,” but instead he acquired “a political faith.”
In the mid 2000s Castro approved of building a Russian Orthodox church in center of Havana and Cuban people built it on their own money.
This February a historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill was held in the Cuban capital.