US Bishops Urge End to Cuba Embargo

Delegation Visiting Island Nation

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HAVANA, Cuba, AUG. 19, 2009 ( Catholic bishops from the United States visiting Cuba are urging the end to economic embargoes and the beginning of good relations between the two nations.

“Historically, we have a very close relationship with this country,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, affirmed at a press conference Tuesday in Havana.

The Boston prelate is part of a delegation making a four-day visit to the island that ends Thursday. The group, part of the episcopal conference’s secretariat for Latin America, also includes Orlando’s Bishop Thomas Wenski, and the auxiliary bishop of San Antonio, Oscar Cantu.

Bishop Wenski told the journalists that the Church wants to motivate Barack Obama’s government to end the embargo.

“Both the Church in Cuba and the Church in the United States want there to be changes,” he said, speaking in Spanish. He recommended promoting “gestures that nourish the confidence of both sides.”

“The Church here and there wants to be a protagonist in this growing closeness,” the prelate affirmed.

Cardinal O’Malley acknowledged that Church-state relations in Cuba have improved in recent decades, particularly after Pope John Paul II’s 1998 visit.

“Now we can see that the Church has more space,” he said. “We want this to continue to broaden.”

The bishops’ primary objective on the island is to consider pastoral collaboration with the Church in Cuba and Caritas and to analyze the progress of rebuilding after the three hurricanes that struck the nation last year.

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