Cardinal Emeritus

Jaime Lucas Ortega Alamino, was born in Jagüey Grande, Province of Matanzas, on October 18, 1936.

His father was first a worker at the sugar mill next to his hometown and then a small businessman and his mother took care of the housework and collaborated in the family business –

At the age of five his family moved to the city of Matanzas, capital of the province and episcopal seat. There he did his primary school studies at the “Arturo Echemendía” school. His high school studies were done at the Matanzas Secondary Education Institute. Public education student center.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Letters in 1955 and, after a year of university studies, he entered the Saint Albert the Great Diocesan Seminary, governed by the Fathers of the Foreign Missions of Quebec, in 1956.


Episcopal Motto:
“My grace is enough for you”
Episcopal Shield



After the first four years of studying humanities and philosophy, he was sent by his bishop to the Foreign Missions Seminary in Montreal, Canada, where he studied Theology.

He returned to Cuba and was ordained a priest on August 2, 1964 in the Matanzas Cathedral. Cooperating Vicar in Cárdenas until 1966. In 1967 he was appointed parish priest of Jagüey Grande, his hometown.

Like all parish priests in Cuba, during this period of shortage of priests, Father Jaime Ortega attended several parishes and churches simultaneously.

In 1969 he was appointed parish priest at the Matanzas Cathedral, serving at the same time the parish of Pueblo Nuevo, in the city, and two more churches in the countryside. He was at the same time president of the Diocesan Catechesis Commission and carried out an active apostolate with the young people of the diocese. In those years, even more difficult for the pastoral action of the Church, a youth movement began in the diocese that included, among other forms of apostolate, summer camps for young people and evangelizing work through plays, represented by the same young people.

For several years, along with his pastoral activity in the city of Matanzas, he was a professor at the San Carlos and San Ambrosio Interdiocesan Seminary in Havana, where he traveled every week to teach Moral Theology courses.

On December 7, 1978, he was appointed Bishop of Pinar del Río by His Holiness Pope John Paul 11. He was consecrated on January 14, 1979, in the Matanzas Cathedral and on January 21 he took possession of the diocese. Three years of pastoral work in a diocese of great Catholic religiosity, with a very committed and participatory laity, left an indelible mark on the soul of the bishop who was promoted in 1981 to the Archdiocese of Havana as Archbishop, on December 27 he took office. possession of its new headquarters.

He was created Cardinal by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in the Consistory of November 26, 1994. He was received as a Cardinal in the S.M.I. Havana Cathedral on December 11, 1994.

His work as Archbishop of Havana is responsible for the creation of several parishes, the constitution of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Diocesan Council of Laity, which brings together the different movements of the Archdiocese, the reconstruction of more than fifty churches and parish houses. , the establishment of a Priestly House that welcomes priests from the Diocese and from all over Cuba for meetings, retreats or simply on their days of rest, the creation of a Lay Meeting Center, with a library, chapel and guest rooms, the construction of two meeting centers and meetings, especially for young people, constitute some of the main actions undertaken by the Archbishop, who has always had a special concern for the laity and, within it, for young people. He is responsible for the establishment of Caritas Habana in 1991, thus beginning Caritas Cuba; Similarly, in 2011 he created the “P. Félix Varela”, a center for the formation of the laity.

The Archbishop’s main concern has been vocations to the priesthood. He is responsible for the construction of the new San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary in Havana, which provides its services to all the dioceses of Cuba, and which constitutes the largest construction carried out by the Catholic Church in Cuba since 1959. He has ordained more than 40 priests, a modest number, but significant for a diocese, particularly if we take into account that since the 1960s in Cuba the Church has had a very restricted pastoral action, a situation that has been alleviated in recent years. years.

For his homilies, for his interventions and messages, he is known by the people of his Archdiocese, who are interested in his points of view and pay attention to his guidelines, despite the fact that the Church does not have regular access to the media. In the Archdiocese, the “Palabra Nueva” Magazine began to be published in 1992, which has a monthly circulation of 12,000 copies and obtained the grand prize from the International Union of Catholic Journalists that was awarded in Paris, at the headquarters of the UNESCO; as well as other publications such as Espacio Laical Magazine, from the Lay Council; Love and Life, from the Christian Family Movement, etc.

Cardinal Ortega has been Vice President of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba in various periods, etc. For several years he has been a Counselor of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and belongs to the Congregations for the Clergy and for Health Pastoral Care. He has been awarded Honoris Causa doctorates from the Universities of St Thomas and Berry in Miami Florida, Providence, Rhode Island, the University of San Francisco, the annual prize of the Bonino Pulejo Foundation of Messina, the Gaudium et Spes, the Knights of Columbus, among other international recognitions such as the Honoris Causa Doctorate from Creighton University, in the United States and the Medal from the Catholic University of Eichstätt, in Germany.

Given the uniqueness of Cuba in the global context, he has had to hold meetings with dignitaries from various countries, including Presidents, representatives of various Royal Houses, ministers, representatives of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Cuba, etc., who turn to him interested in the Cuban theme.
For more than two years, he has been involved in a dialogue process with the highest Cuban authorities, to facilitate the solution of various problems. One of the fruits of this dialogue has been the process of releasing prisoners for political reasons.