Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino

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His Eminence

Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of San Cristobal de la Habana
Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino.jpg
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
ArchdioceseRoman Catholic Archdiocese of San Cristóbal de la Habana
Appointed21 November 1981
Term ended26 April 2016
PredecessorFrancisco Ricardo Oves Fernández
SuccessorJuan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Ss. Aquila e Priscilla
Ordination2 August 1964
by José Maximino Eusebio Domínguez y Rodríguez
Consecration14 January 1979
by Mario Tagliaferri
Created cardinal26 November 1994
Personal details
Birth nameJaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino
Born (1936-10-18) 18 October 1936 (age 82)
Jagüey Grande, Cuba
Previous post
MottoSufficit Tibi Gratia Mea (My grace is sufficient for you)
Styles of
Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino
Coat of arms of Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeSan Cristobal de la Habana

Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino (born 18 October 1936) is a Cuban prelate of the Catholic Church who served as Archbishop of Havana from 1981 to 2016. He was made a Cardinal in 1994, the second Cuban to hold that distinction.

Early life and ordination[edit]

He was born on 18 October 1936 in Jagüey Grande, Matanzas, Cuba. He studied for priesthood at the Seminary of San Alberto Magno in Matanzas and in the Seminary of the Fathers of Foreign Missions in Quebec, Canada. He was ordained a priest on 2 August 1964 by Bishop Jose Maximino Dominguez-Rodriguez of Matanzas. He was assigned to various parishes in the Diocese of Matanzas from 1964 to 1966. He was imprisoned by the Communist government from 1966 to 1967. From 1967-1969, pastor of Jagüey Grande, his native city; as all the pastors in Cuba, due to a severe shortage of priests in those years, he served in several parishes and churches at the same time. Pastor of the cathedral of Matanzas, and at the same time, assisted the parish of Pueblo Nuevo and two other churches in the countryside; he was also president of the Diocesan Commission of Catechetic and realized an active apostolate with the youth of the diocese; in those years, which were even more difficult for the pastoral work of the church, he began a youth movement that included, among other forms of apostolate, a summer camp for the youth, and a work of evangelization through theatrical works performed by the same youth. At the same time, he was professor at San Carlos y San Ambrosio Interdiocesan Seminary, Havana, where he traveled every week to teach moral theology for several years.

Bishop, Archbishop, and Cardinal[edit]

On 4 December 1978, Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of the Diocese of Pinar del Rio. He was consecrated bishop on 14 January 1979 by Mario Tagliaferri, Pro-Nuncio in Cuba, assisted by Francisco Oves-Fernandez, Archbishop of Havana and Domínguez-Rodríguez, Bishop of Matanzas. His episcopal motto is Sufficit tibi gratia mea. He was promoted to Archbishop of Havana in 1981. He was made Cardinal-Priest of Santi Aquila e Priscilla on 26 November 1994. He served as president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba from 1988 to 1999. In 1996, he presided the commission for the process of postulation of the cause of beatification of the Servant of God Fr. Félix Varela y Morales.

Ortega y Alamino was one of the cardinal electors in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI and one of those who in the 2013 papal conclave elected Pope Francis.

On 15 June 2013, Pope Francis named Cardinal Ortega y Alamino as his Special Envoy to the closing ceremony of the National Eucharistic Congress in El Salvador, scheduled for 11 August 2013.[1] On 26 April 2016, Pope Francis accepted his resignation as archbishop.[2][3]


In 2004, the Humanitarian Institution of Merit in Barcelona, Spain awarded him with the "Gran Cruz al Mérito Humanitario." He has been given an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Saint Thomas, Fordham University, Barry University, University of San Francisco, Providence College, Boston College, St. John's University, Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla, and Creighton University.


Ortega y Alamino has been critical of both capitalism and communism. Like John Paul II, he has urged his nation not to construct a post-communist future on the basis of hyper-capitalist principles. In 1998, he warned of the insidious influence in Cuba of a "species of American subculture that invades everything: It is a fashion, a conception of life."[4] In September 1993 the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops, headed by Cardenal Ortega, published the message "El amor todo lo espera" (Love endures all things), extremely critical of the Cuban Communist government and asking for a new direction of the country. In April 2010 he said that Cuba was in crisis.[5]

Political activism[edit]

On 20 May 2010, Dionisio García Ibáñez [es], Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, and Cardinal Ortega met with Cuban President Raúl Castro to discuss issues concerning jailed political dissidents.[6][7][8] Ortega said that there "will be a process and this process has to start with small steps and these steps will be made."[6] The high-level meeting followed by a press conferences was unusual.[6][7][8] Cardinal Ortega will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on 14 August 2015, prior to Kerry's visit with the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez; after visiting with [9]

During negotiations to renew diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, Cardinal Ortego, without public announcement, visited the White House and hand-delivered a letter from Pope Francis to President Obama.[10]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Rinunce e nomine, 26.04.2016" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Archbishop of Havana, key figure in U.S. relations, steps down". South Florida Sun Sentinel. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  4. ^ Allen, John L., Jr. (c. 2005). "Who Will Be the Next Pope? These candidates have possibilities". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  5. ^ "Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega says country is in crisis". BBC News. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  6. ^ a b c "BBC News - Cuba's Castro meets Catholic Church leaders". BBC Online. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  7. ^ a b Andrea Rodriguez. "Cuban cardinal wants political prisoners freed - Focus on Cuba- msnbc.com". MSN. Retrieved 24 May 2010.[dead link]
  8. ^ a b Andrea Rodriguez. "Cuban president meets with church leader". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  9. ^ "Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Says Cuba and U.S. Are on Promising Road". Radio Havana Cuba. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  10. ^ Davis, Julie Hirschfield; Baker, Peter (13 August 2015). "A Secretive Path to Raising U.S. Flag in Cuba". New York Times. Retrieved 17 February 2016.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Francisco Oves-Fernandez
Archbishop of Havana
1981 - 2016
Succeeded by
Juan Garcia Rodriguez