National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA Cuban Council of Churches
Over the past four decades, Protestant churches have, on countless occasions and in diverse ways, served as links between the peoples of Cuba and the United States. The Church, as the People of God, has always attempted to transcend borders in order to serve as an instrument of justice, reconciliation and unity. The Church stands as a voice of faith and hope refusing to accept as immutable and definitive elements and barriers that alienate and isolate human beings.
The nearly half-century of bilateral relations between our two countries has been characterized by a unique confrontational and hostile policy. It is the story of a frustrated friendly coexistence of two nations generated during the most hostile moments of the so-called Cold War Era, and era prolonged beyond all possible rational and logical thinking and against the best interests of the peoples of the United States and Cuba.
On October 14, 1973 the General Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ NCCC petitioned: the U.S. Congress and President to modify its policy of the past decade and begin working towards bilateral commercial exchange and mutual assistance with Cuba. Todays Council of Churches of Cuba CIC , for its part, has on several occasions during its history as an Evangelical and Ecumenical Council (as well as at different instances and at its recent general Assembly), declared itself in favor of searching for new ways towards dialogue and understanding between the peoples and governments of Cuba and the United States. During the past three decades, both councils and their member churches have repeatedly urged the lifting of both the economic and financial embargoes of the island.
Repeated requests by an overwhelming majority of United Nations members, the World Council of Churches, the Caribbean Conference of Churches, the Latin American Council of Churches and most recently by Pope John Paul II, have called for changes that would lead to the improvement of bilateral relationships between both countries. Although the objectives of such proposals for change have not yet been achieved at the U.S. Congress and Government, we have already seen an increasing presence of the Cuban issue during debates, along with sincere interest to open new doors in our relationship.
The joint work of both council, along with the struggle waged by the Cuban people and the action of U.S. public opinion and world personalities for the return to Cuba of Elian Gonzalez have given a human character to the Cuban issue and have thus broken the silence that existed in the United States about Cuba. There are signs that we are now at the doors of new and promising opportunities.
Illegal departures that tragically result in the death of human beings and extreme pain for Cuban families due to such irreparable loss of relatives, serve to strengthen the commitment by both councils to advocate for the change of regulations and migration laws encouraging illegal departures from Cuba to the United States.
In the face of challenges and opportunities and evangelical principles and institutional policies, the National Council of Churches in the United States and the Council of Churches of Cuba reiterate their commitment to continue taking new and significant steps, based on mutual solidarity between our two peoples to find ways towards a dialogue that respects our differences and recognized and strengthens our similarities as people. Such an effort suggests the participation buy other sectors pursuing the same goad of achieving normal relations between our two peoples and governments.
In order to support the initiative, the NCCC and the CIC will establish a fund dedicated to financing a project of exchange through the Councils among U.S. and Cuban citizens. This exchange will encourage us to explore our human richness, share knowledge, experience and dreams. It will also serve as an appropriate context for intercessory prayers for each other in the Spirit of the Gospel. It will seek to establish that respect for the sovereignty and self-determination of nations, which are crucial to harmonious relationships among neighbors.
To achieve these goals, the NCCC and the CIC will:
Aware of the irrevocable ecumenical vocation of todays Church of Jesus Christ; aware that all its missions are marked by the need to testify to the Gospel within the current context of increasing interdependence, and therefore convinced of the common destination awaiting all the countries of the world, both council invite all churches in Latin America, the Caribbean and North America to jointly cultivate, among all of us, a spirit of Christian solidarity that unites us in our common struggle for a world of justice and peace.
At the beginning of a new millennium and in this period of jubilee announcing the forgiveness of our debts and the restitution of right and justice, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States and the Council of Churches of Cuba rejoice in the fact of having been able to join efforts in this venture of faith; a venture of faith that stands for the restitution of rights and justice in bilateral relations between our two countries will lead us towards a new stage of understanding, crowned by equality and fraternity for the good of our people.
We will both work towards:
And we follow the words of written by the poet:
No East or West can be found in Christ,
No South or North threatening with war, but
Just one single loving communion
Which tightly embraces the Earth all
The Lord will judge among the Nations and decide the differences of
They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and they will study war no more.
The Reverend Dr. Bob Edgar, General
Secretary of the NCCC
Dr. Reinerio Arce Valentin, President of the CIC
Havana, September 6, 2000.
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