US Bishops Laud Eased Restrictions on Cuba

Affirm Hope for Better Relations

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 17, 2011 ( The U.S. bishops are welcoming a government decision to loosen current restrictions on travel to Cuba and economic support sent to that country. 

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order changing the policy regarding the communist country of Cuba, which has been under U.S. trade embargo since 1962. 

The new policy permits religious, cultural and educational groups to sponsor travel to Cuba, «to enhance contact» with the people and «support civil society.» 

It also allows for people in the United States to send up to $500 per quarter to non-family members in Cuba «to help expand the economic independence of the Cuban people and to support a more vibrant Cuban civil society.» 

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement on behalf of the prelates to welcome Obama’s policy changes. 

The bishop affirmed, «These needed new policies are modest but important steps toward advancing our hopes for a better relationship between our people and the people of Cuba, a relationship which holds great promise of fostering positive and real change in Cuba.» 

He added that «the Church sees the changes as useful, positive and important steps forward towards the goal of greater engagement.» 

Bishop Hubbard concluded, «We hope and pray that these needed measures to remove unnecessary restrictions on purposeful travel to Cuba and to offer greater people-to-people assistance to Cubans will be another step toward supporting the people of Cuba in achieving greater freedom, human rights, and religious liberty.»

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