WASHINGTON (December 4, 1998) -- Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick today praised the announcement by Cuba's government that it is reinstating Christmas as a holiday. The Chairman of the Bishops' International Policy Committee said the decision indicates a willingness to heed Pope John Paul II's call for greater openness.
The full text of Archbishop McCarrick's statement follows:
The decision of Cuba's Communist Party, announced December 1, to reinstate the annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus, in the words of the Political Bureau's declaration, "as a holiday for Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers" alike is welcome indeed. It is an indication of Cuba's willingness to heed the Holy Father's request last January that it open itself to the world, as he urged the world to open itself to Cuba.
Whatever the reasons for suppressing this holiday nearly three decades ago, it is encouraging that the Cuban authorities today recognize the importance of Cuba's Christian cultural heritage and the profound religious sentiments of so much of the population. I pray that these authorities will be guided to grant the other just requests of the Cuban bishops for greater space and freedom for all persons of faith in that country.