Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
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.