Jesuit superior general Fr Arturo Sosa allegedly signed a letter praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in 1989.
The 810th name on the list of signatories is “Arturo Sosa, S.J.,” of the Centro Gumilla, of which he was director at the time.
The letter begins: “We… wish to publicly express our respect for what you, as the main leader of the Cuban Revolution, have achieved for the dignity of your people and therefore for all Latin America.”
It goes on to say that “only ideological blindness can deny the place the process you represent occupies in the history of the liberation of our peoples.”
The letter also describes Castro’s overthrow of the Batista government as an “exemplary victory over tyranny, corruption and servitude”, with the signatories pledging to use him as an example in their hope of creating a “just, independent” Latin America.
Castro’s regime brutally suppressed the Catholic Church after seizing power in 1959, nationalising Church schools, censoring publications and expelling priests.
It was only in the 1990s, some years after the letter was signed, that the Cuban government began relaxing restrictions on the Church.
Fr Sosa was elected 31st superior general of the Jesuits in October last year, succeeding Fr Adolfo Nicolas.
Observers have regarded him as being very left wing in the past, with the Centro Gumilla adopting a stance close to Liberation Theology. However, he later became disillusioned with the regime of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.