WASHINGTON (CNS) — The head of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ international policy committee expressed “profound disagreement” Jan. 12 with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to add Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
“For decades, in conjunction with the Holy See and the majority of the international community, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged collaboration and mutually beneficial relations between the United States and Cuba, as well as the full lifting of the economic embargo against the island nation,” said Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois.
The bishop said the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, which he chairs, has said many times “we need more relations between the United States and Cuba, not less, in order to construct mutually beneficial trade, cultural and scientific ties that will yield a lasting prosperity for both our nations.”
He added, “I pray that we never tire of working toward these goals and that both sides recognize the need for friendship and collaboration.”
In his Jan. 11 announcement about Cuba, Pompeo said the Trump administration was designating it as a state sponsor of terrorism “for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism” by “granting safe harbor to terrorists.”
The administration “has been focused from the start on denying the Castro regime the resources it uses to oppress its people at home, and countering its malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere,” he said.
The Cuban government “for decades,” Pompeo said, “has fed, housed and provided medical care for murderers, bombmakers and hijackers, while many Cubans go hungry, homeless and without basic medicine.”
The island nation “also harbors several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on or convicted of charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades,” he added, naming several fugitives including Joanne Chesimard, who is wanted by the FBI “for executing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973.”
“With this action, we will once again hold Cuba’s government accountable and send a clear message: The Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of U.S. justice,” Pompeo added.
Other critics of the State Department’s action said it will hamper plans by President-elect Joe Biden’s administration “to restore friendlier relations with Havana,” according to a New York Times story.