Posted on Tue, May. 10, 2005 in the Miami Herald
HAVANA - (AP)—Pope Benedict XVI has named a new bishop for central Cuba’s Matanzas diocese in his first decision concerning the Roman Catholic church on this communist-run island, the Bishops Conference of Cuba said Monday.
The Rev. Manuel Hilario de Cespedes y Garcia Menocal, great-great grandson of Cuban independence leader Carlos Manuel Cespedes, will fill the post left vacant by Bishop Mariano Vivanco’s death, the bishops said in a statement. It said the Vatican sent official word over the weekend.
De Cespedes, a priest, has been vicar general in the western province of Pinar del Rio.
Born in Cuba on March 11, 1944, De Cespedes emigrated to Puerto Rico in the 1960s, where he studied electrical engineering.
But in 1966, he entered a seminary in Venezuela to study for the priesthood.
Ordained in 1972, De Cespedes developed his ministry in Venezuela for 12 years before returning to Cuba. In Pinar del Rio, he also served on the editorial board of Vitral, a sometimes outspoken church publication.
Although Cuba was once officially atheist, the government never broke relations with the Vatican and in 1992 dropped all constitutional references to atheism.