WCC blasts U.S. for blocking ecumenical meeting in Cuba

GENEVA — The head of the World Council of Churches is blasting U.S. policy on Cuba for preventing a scheduled … Continued

GENEVA — The head of the World Council of Churches is blasting U.S. policy on Cuba for preventing a scheduled meeting of the Latin American Council of Churches on the communist island nation.

WCC General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit said the Cold War-era policy infringes on religious freedom.

The dispute arose when a Miami branch of an Ecuadorian bank froze a deposit of $101,000 that was made by the Latin American church group’s headquarters in Quito, Ecuador, according to the WCC, which represents 560 million Protestant and Orthodox Christians.

The transfer of funds to Cuba was intended to cover food and lodging costs for 400 delegates and other participants expected to attend the meeting in Cuba, originally scheduled for Feb. 19-24.

But that meeting can no longer take place said Tveit, who called the issue “greatly disappointing.”

The regional church meeting normally takes place every five or six years.

“It is simply not acceptable that the U.S. government through regulations of its banking system has decided to create these obstacles for a significant Christian body that cannot meet, whether it is in Cuba or elsewhere,” Tveit said.

“The United States has an obligation and has repeatedly expressed the commitment to uphold religious freedom. This is a case where the U.S. government could easily have helped to avoid this embarrassing situation but has failed.”

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  • TexasJack

    Presumably the church used a US bank for the transfer knowing full well the funds could be frozen, in fact almost certainly would be frozen. Taking this known risky route, that worst case would bring low cost publicity to this situation, trumped the desire to actually host the meeting in Cuba in February. For over 50 years, politics has permeated both the Cuban revolution and the US response.

    I pray daily that very soon the relationship between the Cuban and American governments improves. The people of the two countries deserve better. While there seems to be universal agreement that the Cuban people would greatly benefit from improved relations, the unrecognized truth, based on my personal experience, is that the American people also could greatly benefit.