U.S. religious leaders call for
It is due to the shared values of our faiths that we
ask that the families of Alan Gross and of the three
Decorated Heroes of the Republic of Cuba be
reunited, stated Reverend John McCullough, President
and executive director of the Church World Service
leading the U.S. delegation on a visit to Cuba from
Left to right, Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer,
and Reverends Gradye Parsons,
Jesús Ortega and John McCullough. Photo: Ismael
The call —made by the Cuban Council of Churches,
Reverend John McCullough, Rabbi Howard “Sunny”
Schnitzer and Reverend Gradye Parsons, from the U.S.
Presbyterian Church — was made during a humanitarian
mission which began with a visit, in February, by a
delegation from the Cuban Council of Churches to
members of the U.S. Congress, the State Department
and religious leaders.
Historically, the World Service of Churches and the
Cuban Council of Churches have maintained relations
through which they have advocated for an end to the
U.S. imposed blockade of Cuba, the elimination of
Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism,
and the development of a stable relationship between
the two nations.
Although exchanges and visits between Cuban and U.S.
leaders of these religious institutions have
continued, “In Cuba, a delegation met with religious
leaders, representatives of the Cuban government, in
order to establish a sustained commitment to
advocate for the reunification of families and
encourage normalization of relations between the two
countries,” stated McCullough, who recently visited
Antonio Guerrero, one of the three Cuban
anti-terrorists still unjustly incarcerated in the
U.S., and assured that he will also visit Ramón
Labañino and Gerardo Hernández.
“Our generation must abandon the type of
relationship that exists today and move toward a new
one, full of hope for the good of further
generations,” stated Reverend Joel Ortega Dopico,
President of the Cuban Council of Churches, also
emphasizing that the declaration is not an isolated
event, but the result of many years of commitment
and trust so that Cubans and U.S. citizens can build
a world of peace.
In this sense, Rabbi Schnitzer commented that the
delegation’s aim, on returning to the U.S., is to
report on the events and important dialogues which
took place, as well as, continuing to raise
awareness within U.S. society about the case of the
Cuban Five and Alan Gross.
During their stay in the country the delegation held
exchanges with Cuban religious leaders and
officials. On the evening of October 4, they were
received by Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, first vice
president of the Councils of State and Ministers,
who repeated Cuba’s call for dialogues with the U.S.
government, in conditions of equality and mutual
respect. The delegation previously met with Minister
of Foreign Relations, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.