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Cuban Council of Churches-(U.S.) National Council of Churches Relations 

The council-to-council partnership in the Elian Gonzalez case (see “Some Frequently Asked Questions About the National Council of Churches and the Elian Gonzalez Case”) was characteristic of the NCC’s work with ecumenical councils and other church bodies in more than 80 countries around the world.  

As people who share a common faith that crosses national boundaries, the NCC and its partners strive to be accountable to each other. That means that the NCC does not make unilateral decisions that affect partners in other countries. On the contrary, it consults with its partners on issues they face and asks how they would like the NCC to be involved. The NCC’s partners are on the ground; they know their own churches and their own country.  They also have to live with the consequences of what the NCC does in the name of the churches. Therefore, the NCC takes their counsel seriously before acting or speaking on issues that have an impact on them. 

The Cuban Council of Churches - founded May 28, 1941 -- and the NCC – founded in November 1950 with the merger of the Federal Council of Churches and several other ecumenical agencies – have a relationship that extends back to before the 1959 Revolution.  The NCC has worked to maintain contacts with Christians in Cuba through difficult days and through many changes as the relationship between church and state evolves in Cuba.  

NCC and member communion leaders have made repeated trips to Cuba over the past 25 to 30 years.  They are not na´ve concerning the intensity of discrimination, and, for a time, persecution, that Cuban Christians have endured over the past several decades.  They also are excited about the increasing “space” that the Cuban churches have for the conduct of their own life and for their service to society.  

The NCC rejoiced with its Cuban partners when Christmas was openly observed in Cuba in 1997. It celebrated with them when, in June 1999, the Cuban Council and its member Protestant churches were able to hold a month-long national evangelical festival that was open to the public. And it has supported the Cuban Council with humanitarian aid when in recent years churches in Cuba were granted a new role in health care, elder care and other social services.  

When NCC delegations have visited Cuba to see the projects we support, they have been dismayed by the suffering of the Cuban people that is a result of a four-decade-long embargo against Cuba – an embargo harsher than sanctions placed on Libya or Iraq. The NCC’s response has been three-fold. It has pressed repeatedly for a normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations that would ease human need in Cuba and that would allow for the reunification of Cuban families. (See 1968 NCC Policy “Imperatives of Peace and Responsibilities of Power” and 1973 NCC “Resolution on Restoration of Normal Relations with Cuba.”)  It has sent humanitarian aid shipments to Cuba since 1992 (see “Backgrounder: Church World Service Humanitarian Aid to Cuba.”)  And it has prayed with and for the people of Cuba.  

Giving thanks for Elian’s safe homecoming, hundreds of people – including Elian’s father and grandmothers and Fidel Castro -- packed Havana’s Episcopal Cathedral for a July 14, 2000, service of celebration organized by the Cuban Council of Churches.  The Rev. Oscar Bolioli represented the NCC.  Referring to the joint efforts of the two councils, the Rev. Dr. Reinerio Arce, Cuban Council of Churches President, said, “This effort of the past months demonstrates that (the churches of Cuba and the United States) can achieve many things on the road to reconciliation.”  He hailed the encounter between people in both nations “who love children and hold a very high concept of the significance of the family,” and urged them to continue to pray and work for reconciliation “in the name of the Eternal Child of Eternal Love.”

The NCC and Cuba