WASHINGTON (June 8, 1998) -- While the resumption of direct flights from the United States to Cuba is welcome progress, two U.S. Bishops are again calling for an end to the restrictions on the sale of food and medicines to Cuba.
Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark and Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee issued a statement Saturday hailing the change in U.S. policy and marking the first anniversary of a statement which called for the resumption of direct flights.
"We pledge to do all we can to encourage private contributions of medicines and other needed goods to Catholic Relief Services for distribution to Cáritas Cubana to help lesson some of the suffering brought on in recent years," the two Bishops said. "As we stated following the January papal visit, 'ending the restrictions on the sale of food and medicines, as legislation currently in both houses of the U.S. Congress calls for, would be, in our view, a noble and needed humanitarian gesture and an expression of wise statesmanship on the part of our elected leaders.'"
Archbishop McCarrick chairs the U.S. Catholic Conference International Policy Committee. Bishop Ricard is the chairman of the Board of Directors for CRS, the U.S. Bishops' relief agency.
The two noted that the donation and delivery of humanitarian aid through CRS and Cáritas Cubana, the Cuban Bishops' relief agency, is a clear expression of the solidarity which has developed between the Bishops of the two nations.
"We are intensely proud of the close relationship of solidarity and cooperative action that has developed between the Church here and in Cuba," the two said. "Although these efforts can meet only a fraction of the needs experienced by many in Cuba today, the Church in both countries is committed to doing all it can to alleviate suffering and give hope in a time of discouragement."