WASHINGTON – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) welcomed an Executive Order by President Obama broadening the scope of travel allowed to Cuba and allowing non-family remittances to Cuba.
“The U.S. bishops welcome President Obama’s Executive Order permitting and broadening purposeful and people-to-people travel to Cuba and allowing all Americans to send financial support to the Cuban people,” said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. “These needed new policies are modest but important steps towards advancing our hopes for a better relationship between our people and the people of Cuba, a relationship which holds great promise of fostering positive and real change in Cuba.”
Bishop Hubbard’s remarks came after the announcement by a senior White House Official explaining the changes, which will expand purposeful and people-to-people travel to Cuba and will allow all Americans to send assistance to the Cuban people. The White House designed these changes to support a more vibrant civil society and to help the Cuban people depend less on the Cuban State at a time when changes in the Cuban economy are anticipated.
The Catholic Church, both in Cuba and in the United States, has repeatedly called for an end to the 50-year-old embargo that has prevented the engagement between the Cuban and American peoples.
“The Church sees the changes as useful, positive and important steps forward towards the goal of greater engagement,” Bishop Hubbard said. “We hope and pray that these needed measures to remove unnecessary restrictions on purposeful travel to Cuba and to offer greater people-to-people assistance to Cubans will be another step toward supporting the people of Cuba in achieving greater freedom, human rights, and religious liberty.”