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NCC General Secretary Welcomes Atlanta "Elian" Ruling

            June 1, 2000, NEW YORK CITY – National Council of Churches General Secretary Robert W. Edgar today welcomed the federal appeals court’s unanimous ruling in favor of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, upholding the father’s right to speak for his son on immigration matters. 

            “We hope Elian and his father will be able to go home soon to a sense of normalcy,” said the Rev. Dr. Edgar, a United Methodist who heads the NCC, the United States’ leading ecumenical organization with 35 Protestant and Orthodox member communions.  “Our only disappointment is that this didn’t happen much earlier.” 

            Acting at the request of, and in partnership with, the Cuban Council of Churches, the NCC has been involved – first quietly, then publicly – since last December in efforts to reunite Elian with his father and extended family, of Cardenas, Cuba. 

            "All along, we have maintained that except in cases of abuse, children are best served when they are with their parents,” Dr. Edgar said.  “Juan Miguel has demonstrated a thousand times over that he is a good, loving father.  We’ve very much appreciated the positive way in which he has reconnected with his son, keeping Elian out of the public eye for these last several weeks.” 

            Dr. Edgar offered a word of concern and support for Elian’s entire family, including both his Miami and Cardenas relatives.  “We recognize what a struggle this has been for the whole family,” he said.  “Their struggle has lifted up the pain of so many families on both sides of the Florida Straits. 

            “As churches in both the United States and Cuba,” he said, “we will continue to seek to build bridges of understanding between our two countries and work together for the well-being of all our people – especially our children.” 

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