Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 18 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Maria Teresa Fasce
home iconNews
line break icon

The Church's Long-Standing Interest in Normalizing US-Cuba Relations

AP Photo/Javier Galeano

John Burger - published on 12/18/14

Pope John Paul's call, “Let Cuba open itself to the world, and let the world open itself to Cuba,” seems to be answered.

The kind of change in U.S. policy toward Cuba that President Barack Obama announced Wednesday is something the Catholic Church has been working toward for many years.

The Vatican and the bishops conferences of the United States and Cuba have long supported normalization of relations between their respective governments, said Stephen Colecchi, director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace. “The US bishops’ conference has said for many years that the path toward improving human rights and a path toward democracy in Cuba is better served by engagement than by isolation. So we do believe that it’s long overdue.”

The US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, President Obama announced Wednesday.

In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks, Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the US and the island nation.

Talks reportedly were encouraged by Pope Francis. The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Paolin, released a statement Wednesday that said representatives from the United States and Cuba met at the Vatican to discuss resuming diplomatic ties last October. 

“The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history,” the statement said.

Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, in a statement Wednesday said the announcement by the Administration "will foster dialogue, reconciliation, trade, cooperation and contact between our respective nations and citizens."

“We believe it is long past due that the United States establish full diplomatic relations with Cuba, withdraw all restrictions on travel to Cuba, rescind terrorist designations aimed at Cuba, encourage trade that will benefit both nations, lift restrictions on business and financial transactions, and facilitate cooperation in the areas of environmental protection, drug interdiction, human trafficking and scientific exchanges,” Bishop Cantú added.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, which has a large population of Cuban-Americans, issued a statement noting that Obama and Castro expressed appreciation for the role of Pope Francis “in making possible what seems to be a real game changer in the historically strained relationship between Cuba and the United States.”

“Pope Francis did what popes are supposed to do: Build bridges and promote peace,” Archbishop Wenski said. “He acted much like his namesake, Francis of Asissi, who during the fifth crusade, went to Egypt to meet with the Sultan al Kamil in the interest of peace.”

Archbishop Wenski said the Church in Cuba has “always opposed the embargo, arguing that it was a blunt instrument that hurt the innocent more than the guilty; and the U.S. Church has supported the Catholic Church in Cuba.”

The Miami archbishop noted that Castro seemed to indicate in his comments that his government was open to engage in conversations with the U.S. on issues related to democracy and human rights. “Progress in this area is normally the result, and not the precondition, of such talks—and so the prospect of such talks is a positive development,” he said.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Tags:
CubaPoliticsPope Francis
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
SAINT RITA CASCIA
Bret Thoman, OFS
Traces of miracles remain at the birthplace o...
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
Reasons Catholics should read the Bible
POPE JOHN PAUL II
Philip Kosloski
St. John Paul II's formula for defeating evil...
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.