US and Cuban Councils of Churches Issue Joint Statement

In the wake of last Wednesday’s announcement of President Obama’s intentions to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, which would end a half century political stand off between the two nations, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) and the Cuban Council of Churches issued a joint statement expressing “great joy and celebration.”

Following is the full statement, as published in a press release from the NCC:

“Este nuevo clima creado en la adopción de estas decisiones, nos plantea nuevos desafíos a nuestro Consejo y sus instituciones miembros, para la acción pastoral para fortalecer el espíritu de reconciliación y la amistad entre nuestros dos pueblos. Nosotros continuaremos trabajando y celebrando  junto a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en los Estados Unidos hacindo posible cambios necesarios que favorezcan a nuestros pueblos.”

“This new environment as result of the recent events face us–as the Council of Churches of Cuba and her member institutions–with new challenges for the pastoral action in order to strengthen the friendship and reconciliation spirit between our two peoples. We will continue to celebrate and work with our brothers and sisters in the United States to make possible the change in favor of our people.”
–Presidente Joel Dopico, Cuban Council of Churches

It is with great joy and celebration that we, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and the Cuban Council of Churches, join together in expressing our thanks to God, the One who inspired the writer of the Book of Revelation to declare, “Behold, I make all things new.”

In this new day of cooperation and openness between the United States and Cuba, we reflect upon the times when our councils worked together with grace and hope, looking for a future in which our nations’ leaders might join in welcoming each other as we have. We are pleased that our churches played a part in leading the way to the events of this week. We are grateful also for the witness of those who tirelessly work for reconciliation, especially today for Pope Francis, who, in the name of Christ, urged our governments to begin normalizing relations.

As we celebrate the changes that have begun, we recognize that still more must be done. We call upon the churches of our two nations to join together in unity and harmony as we urge our nations’ leaders to finish the work of normalization.

We call upon the US Congress to lift the economic embargo in place for more than fifty years.

We urge the Cuban government to take steps to help facilitate commercial, cultural, and overall exchange.

We laud the lifting of restrictions around religious and academic travel to Cuba, but also ask our respective governments to end all restrictions on travel between our two countries. We believe this will offer the greatest possibility for reconciliation and cultural exchange between our people.

We ask the government of the United States to remove Cuba from its list of countries believed to support terrorism.

We urge our churches, governments, and community groups to facilitate the healing of divisions that have hardened over the last 50 years.

We pledge to work through our churches for reconciliation and healing of pain caused through so many years of separation and confrontation.

In this season of light, celebrated both in Advent and Hanukkah, we pledge to continue lighting the fires of hope, and look forward to a brighter future for all people, this day for the people of the United States and Cuba.

— Steven D. Martin of the National Council of Churches communications staff provided this release. Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC’s 37 member communions–from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American, and Living Peace churches–include 45 million people in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

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