The Metropolitan Council of Cuba (MCC), which has overseen the Episcopal Church of Cuba since the embargo of 1960 made travel and communication between the Cuban church and the church in the United States almost impossible, has released a statement of thanksgiving for the normalization of American-Cuban relations.
“We believe this development abounds in hope for a movement from hostility to hospitality, embargo to engagement, alienation to accompaniment, in the interests of all for whom Cuba is, has been, and always will be home,” said the statement issued on December 23. Founded in the early 20th century, the Episcopal Church of Cuba was formerly a missionary diocese of The Episcopal Church in the United States.
The statement also commended the “courageous leadership” of U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro and thanked God “for the role Canada has played in providing venues for negotiations in the interest of this historic development.”
The statement noted the long-term guidance that the Council has offered to the Cuban church. While it acknowledged that “in that story there have been a number of challenging moments,” it also spoke of “more than a few exceptionally grace-filled moments,” in particular the election of current Bishop of Cuba Griselda Delgado del Carpio, whose “vision for the church in Cuba and…leadership in engaging clergy and laity in advancing that vision, have been nothing less than inspirational.”
The statement also “rejoiced” with the families of the five Cubans arrested and imprisoned in the U.S. for conspiracy to commit espionage and other related crimes, and with the family of Allan Gross, a U.S. Agency for International Development worker who had been in a Cuban prison since 2009 under allegations that he had been working to undermine Cuba’s independence. It rejoiced also with “families in both countries who can anticipate the easing of travel conditions.”
It is not yet certain what the normalization of relations will mean, and the embargo, which would require the approval of the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress, is still in place. However, travel bans are being eased, and the U.S. hopes to open an embassy in Cuba in the near future.
The Council is chaired by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who serves alongside Archbishop John Holder, primate of the Church in the Province of the West Indies, and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, primate of the Episcopal Church of the United States. Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, is the Council’s secretary.