Following U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision Dec. 17 to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba after 54 years, the leadership of the Episcopal Church of Cuba released a statement thanking God for the repatriation of prisoners to both countries and thanking the churches in the United States for the “bridges of hope” they affirmed during the decades of separation.
The statement, signed by standing committee president the Rev. Alfredo Nuño, Suffragan Bishop Ulises Aguero and diocesan Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, expressed gratitude to The Episcopal Church, noting that “through different strategies, such as travel, exchanges, and the presentation of official resolutions,” it has “accompanied our church and therefore our people.”
Joy was also expressed over the return of Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labanino, the three remaining members of the “Cuban Five” who were held in U.S. prisons since 1998, and U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba since 2009. The release of prisoners, the statement says, “show[s] that dialogue and a stance of mutual understanding and respect in the midst of differences are basic elements in the relationships among governments and peoples.”
The statement also acknowledged the uncertainty of the present moment, asking God to “guide the governments of both countries in wise decisions,” to “illuminate these new times and challenges that have come to the Cuban people,” and to “weave concord among the two peoples and affirm our commitment to the truth.”
The statement ended with an acknowledgement of the significance of such a momentous decision so close to Christmas. “Jesus was born so that reconciliation and peace could enter and fill the lives of women and men, of families and communities, of peoples and nations,” the statement reads. “May the light of Christmas be a fountain of blessings for both our peoples.”