April 18, 2012
WASHINGTON—The United States should establish full diplomatic relations and withdraw all restrictions on travel to Cuba to advance the cause of human rights and religious liberty, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In eliminating all restrictions on travel to Cuba and establishing full diplomatic relations, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa said the United States “will be supporting the people of Cuba, our neighbors but 90 miles away, in achieving greater freedom, human rights, and religious liberty plus also engaging a trading partner that will benefit American commerce.”
In his April 17 letter, Bishop Pates welcomed the eased restrictions enacted by the Obama administration last year and said that his participation in the March 26-28 visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba showed him first-hand how continuing this trend will improve the lives of people of both countries.
“Charitable organizations, including those of the Catholic Church, provide essential and life-preserving services to the most marginalized and impoverished Cubans,” Bishop Pates wrote. “The staff members selflessly administering these facilities and senior Cuban Church officials responsible for these programs repeatedly told me that the efficacy of their work was hampered by their inability to obtain products from the United States due to the trade embargo.”
“The Catholic Church in our country and in Cuba has long maintained that greater, rather than less, engagement with Cuba can bring about positive change in that country,” Bishop Pates added.
The full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/about/international-justice-and-peace/upload/Cuba-Letter_final.pdf