Statement on Lifting Certain Restrictions

Bishop Daniel P. Reilly
October 10, 1995

We support the decision of the United States government to rescind certain additions, put in place a year ago last August, to the decades-long economic embargo against Cuba. Among other things, those restrictions forbade Cuban Americans from sending remittances to their families in Cuba and imposed new restrictions on travel to the island.

Through no fault of their own, the Cuban people continue to suffer severe shortages of foods and medicines, shortages which family members abroad and charitable institutions are able and willing to relieve. For humanitarian reasons, they should not be prevented from doing so by policies of either the Cuban or U.S. government. Similarly, the right of persons to migrate from one to another place, and in general to travel freely, should be respected. Only the most serious considerations affecting the safety and well-being of individuals or groups can restrict this right.

We welcome the decision issued October 6 and hope that it may lead to a lessening of suffering and hardship among the many Cuban people who are innocent victims of unduly restrictive policies. We believe that increased contact and communication between our two peoples will advance, not retard, the cause of freedom, human rights and religious liberty.

On repeated occasions, the Catholic bishops of Cuba have opposed all those measures imposed by other countries that have brought added pain and suffering to the Cuban people. Few sectors of the Cuban population and no group of comparable size have experienced greater discrimination or restrictions on their freedom than the Catholic community of that country. Yet the leaders of the Church have consistently opposed measures which seek to punish the government and end up hurting the people. Their call, repeated tirelessly, is for dialogue; genuine and open dialogue within Cuba, and dialogue between Cuba and the outside world, most especially with the United States.

In the last few years, through the mediation of Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Medical Mission Board, and the Archdiocese of Boston, the Catholic community of our country has been able to respond to certain humanitarian needs of the Cuban people by providing needed medicines and equipment to the Cuban Catholic Charities organization, Caritas. This expression of the universal charity of the Church, necessarily facilitated by the governments of both countries, is a genuine sign of hope.

May the recent decision by our government to lessen travel and other restrictions also point to a more hopeful time of greater freedom and better relations between the people of Cuba and the United States.