Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez, archbishop of San Cristóbal de La Habana (Cuba), was born in Camagüey on 11 July 1948 in a modest family, the first of six children.
He was still an adolescent when he entered the San Basilio Magno seminary in El Cobre. For a year he attended the El Buen Pastor seminary in Havana and then completed his theological formation in the San Carlos y San Ambrosio seminary, again in the capital.
In the 1970s, despite the controls of the Castro regime that forbade priests to preach outside church walls, “"Father Juanito”, he was familiarly called, passed from house to house in the villages to distribute leaflets written always with the aim of reaffirming Christian principles. He took the first steps of his ministry in the current diocese of Ciego de Ávila – erected by John Paul II in 1995 – but also in Morón and Jatibonico. In 1989 he was transferred to the parish of Florida, while at the same time taking care of other neighbouring communities. He was co-author of the popular devotionary Los cubanos rezamos a Dios, as well as founder and director of the Escuela para Misioneros de la Diócesis.
On 15 March 1997 Pope Wojtyła elected him to the titular see of Gummi in Proconsolare, appointing him as auxiliary bishop of Camagüey, where he received episcopal ordination on 7 June of the same year, in the church of Nuestra Señora de la Merced, from Archbishop Adolfo Rodríguez Herrera, who had already ordained him a priest. His episcopal motto is Ve y anuncia el Evangelio (“Go and proclaim the Gospel”).
In 1998 the diocese of Camagüey was elevated to the rank of a metropolitan see, and on 10 June 2002 Msgr. Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez was promoted as archbishop.
In 2006 he chaired the first national assembly of the missions, held in Havana. In February of the same year he was elected as president of the Cuban Episcopal Conference and, in this role, participated in 2007 in the fifth General Assembly of the episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean in Aparecida. In 2007 he was appointed as member of the Pontifical Council for justice and peace.
As archbishop of Camagüey, on 29 November 2008 he received Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, for the beatification of José Olallo Valdés, the religious of Fatebenefratelli – the first Cuban to be proclaimed blessed on the island – who in the nineteenth century had devoted all his life to helping the poor, slaves and the underprivileged. He also initiated the process for the beatification of his predecessor in leading the archdiocese, the Servant of God Archbishop Adolfo Rodríguez Herrera.
During his fourteen years as pastor in Camagüey, among other things he re-launched the San Agustín seminary and took over and developed numerous works in the service of the poorest. The same pastoral imprint can be found in these first three years spent guiding the archdiocese of San Cristóbal de La Habana, entrusted to him by Pope Francis on 26 April 2016.
He is currently a member of the Standing Committee of the Cuban Episcopal Conference and president of the National Commission for Mission and the Family: in this capacity he was elected representative of the episcopate at the Ordinary Synod on the Family in 2014. And the following year he was among the bishops who welcomed Pope Francis during his apostolic trip to the Caribbean island, as he had already done in 1998 with John Paul II and in 2012 with Benedict XVI.
By Pope Francis created and published Cardinal in the Consistory of October 5, 2019, of the Title of Saints Aquila and Priscilla.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 5 October 2019, of the Title of Santi Aquila e Priscilla.
- Congregation for the Clergy.