Following Pope Benedict XVIâ€™s recent trip to Cuba, U.S. Catholic bishops are pushing the State Department to lift the 50-year Cuban embargo in order to improve religious liberty and human rights for the Cuban people.
In a Tuesday (April 17) letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, the chairman of the bishopsâ€™ Committee on International Justice and Peace, pressed the Obama administration to pursue â€œpurposeful engagement rather than ineffective isolationâ€ with Havana.
After joining Benedict during his March 26-28 visit, Pates saw firsthand what added support could do for the Cuban people, he wrote in the letter.
Richard Coll, a policy adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said lifting the embargo has been the bishopsâ€™ â€long-held policyâ€ for at least the last 20 years, but actually traveling to the country made the issue real for Pates and other prelates.
The embargo should be lifted, Pates wrote, so that â€œgreater support and assistance may be provided to the ordinary citizensâ€ of the country. [More]