1998 NCC News Archives

National Council of Churches logo represents the church 
as ecumenical ship, serving the world

NCC Welcomes Resumption
of Direct Aid Flights from U.S. to Cuba

How to Help

Funds for humanitarian response to Cuba may be directed to: CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations: 1-800-762-0968.

Who We Are

Church World Service works in more than 70 countries, including the U.S., in disaster relief, human development and refugee assistance. It is a ministry of the National Council of Churches, the nation's preeminent ecumenical organization which includes 34 Protestant and Orthodox member communions with a combined membership of nearly 52 million.

NEW YORK, March 20, 1998 – The National Council of Churches, and especially its humanitarian assistance ministry, Church World Service, expressed delight today with the Clinton Administration’s easing of restrictions on direct aid flights from the United States to Cuba and of some other sanctions.

"It is our deepest hope that the reinstatement of direct flights will help reunify Cuban families here and abroad, as well as guarantee the swift delivery of critical food and medicines to a people who have suffered mightily under the U.S. embargo," said the Rev. Dr. Rodney I. Page, CWS Executive Director.

NCC General Secretary Joan B. Campbell said today that the Council’s humanitarian assistance to Cuba will be "easier to arrange and less costly to accomplish," thanks to the decision.

Over the past six years, the NCC – through its Church World Service ministry – has sent 38 shipments of food, medicines, medical equipment, school supplies and other goods to Cuba totaling nearly 300 tons with a market value of more than $7 million. CWS assistance is targetted to the most vulnerable members of Cuban society – women, children and the elderly.

The President’s decision also creates simpler and faster licensing procedures for exporting medicines and medical devices to Cuba, and allows Cuban Americans to send money to relatives in Cuba. "We are pleased to know that President Clinton has been listening to the growing clamor of the churches, most recently expressed by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Cuba and also by the NCC’s general secretary," Dr. Page said. Drs. Page and Campbell both have visited Cuba during the last several months.

The NCC has called repeatedly for the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, including a lifting of the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Dr. Campbell’s most recent letter to President Clinton on the subject was sent March 4, 1998. "We hope and pray that today’s actions by the U.S. government will serve as a stepping stone that will lead Cuba and the United States to discuss differences seriously, work toward reconciliation and insure the lifting of the U.S. embargo and the normalization of relations," Dr. Page concluded.

Writer: Carol J. Fouke

NCC Home Page
NCC News Service Index