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Archbishop Wenski's statement on Cuba announcement

'Game-changer' offers reason for hope

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Archbishop Thomas Wenski issued this statement Dec. 17, 2014 in response to the announcement by both President Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro that Cuba and the United States had begun working toward normalizing relations.

Both President Obama and Raul Castro expressed appreciation to 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. 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.

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. We have consistently advocated that the U.S. should revise this policy, in the hope that engagement and dialog would prove more helpful in improving conditions in Cuba than a policy of confrontation and isolation.

In comments that Raul Castro made, he seemed to indicate 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. As president Obama said, to seek the collapse of Cuba is not sound policy. Cuba needs change. Today's announcement is a game changer as I said - but as Cuba transitions through such changes we all should encourage a soft landing - that is, change that is peaceful and offers real hope for the Cuban people on both sides of the Florida Straits.

Comments from readers

Paul Schlachter - 12/23/2014 07:35 PM
The archbishop has set the right tone for our debate in the archdiocese. Policies that lighten the economic burden for the people of Cuba have been supported by the spiritual leadership of both countries. Policies that make possible greater communication between believers in both countries, and which can lead to increased religious expression in Cuba, deserve our full support. Policies that enjoy the unanimous support of heads of government throughout the hemisphere deserve to be implemented.
Gabriel I. Ruiz - 12/21/2014 12:13 AM
I agree with Mnsgr Wenski
Norman Embree - 12/18/2014 08:41 AM
I could not agree more with Archbishop Wenski,our Holy Father and the talks inititated between the US and Cuba. Fifty years has been way too long to carry on hostilities between neighbors. I myself am not of Cuban heritage. However, my grandfather and grandmother owned a restaurant outside of Havana back in the 1950's. As Castro marched on Havana, my grandfather was imprisoned. My grandmother and my aunt who were on the beach at the time were rescued by General Batista's men making it safely to Florida in just their beachwear and sandals. My grandfather was released by Castro years later as he lay dying from cancer and allowed to return to the US where he succumbed a few days later. Despite the hardhship caused my family by the Castro Regime, I believe that our Lord calls us to reconciliation. To forgive our brother and sister, to share in Eucharistic communion. That applies to all relationships. Our brothers and sisters in Cuba deserve to live in peace and to earn a fair wage. I applaud our Archbishop for his quick response to yesterday's historic development in both our country and that of Cuba.

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