by Edd Doerr
Remember Desi ("I Love Lucy") Arnaz singing Babalu Aye years ago? Babalu Aye is a deity in the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion, brought from West Africa's Yoruba culture during the early slave trade years and mixed with elements of Spanish Catholicism. About 80% of Cubans are adherents to Santeria, outnumbering practicing Cuban Catholics by about 8 to 1. Santeria is not uncommon among post-1959 Cuban immigrants to Florida.
Now it is reported that His Arrogance -- sorry, I mean His Holiness -- Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting Cuba March 26-28, and, like his predecessor John Paul II, he has ruled out meeting with Santeria representatives. He probably can't get his head around the idea that a great many Cubans are both Catholics and Santeros. Ah, so much for ecumenism.