Cuban cardinal departs church leadership body

Cuban Cardinal Ortega out of Bishops' Conference leadership, presaging eventual retirement

Cuba Catholic Church

FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2011 file photo, Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega, center, greets Catholics before a Mass honoring the "La Virgen de la Caridad de

HAVANA (AP) -- Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana is no longer on the leadership council of the Cuban Catholic Bishops' Conference, a move seen as a prelude to the 77-year-old prelate's eventual retirement.

The bishops met last week to name the body's members, and for the first time in years Ortega is not on it. Santiago Archbisop Dionisio Garcia was renamed as its president.

Ortega submitted his resignation in 2011, as is customary for bishops when they turn 75. But so far neither Pope Francis nor predecessor Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation.

Ortega is the island's only cardinal.

Religious historian Enrique Lopez Oliva said Monday that Garcia will likely be transferred to the Havana diocese and elevated to cardinal whenever Ortega's resignation is accepted.