From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
NCCCUSA GENERAL SECRETARY ON PASTORS FOR PEACE, CUBA EMBARGO
02 May 1996 22:28:54
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Contact: Carol J. Fouke, NCC, 212-870-2252
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STATEMENT OF NCC GENERAL SECRETARY JOAN BROWN CAMPBELL
AT PASTORS FOR PEACE NEWS CONFERENCE, MAY 2, WASHINGTON, D.C.
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2 ---- National Council of Churches General Secretary
Joan Brown Campbell and other religious leaders today joined U.S. Cong.
Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and some 60 other members of Congress in appealing
to President Clinton for compassion in dealing with members of a religious
group who have gone without food for 72 days in a dispute with the
Administration over the shipment of 400 medical computers to Cuba.
Attending the news conference at which the Rev. Dr. Campbell and Cong.
Rangel spoke were four Pastors for Peace members who are now confined to
wheelchairs because of their weakened condition.
With assistance from Cong. Rangel and other members of Congress, the
Catholic Archdiocese of New York and several Protestant denominations,
Pastors for Peace has tried to persuade the Administration to allow the
shipment of the low-level computers to be used in hospitals in Cuba. The
computers were confiscated by Customs Service officials last February as
the group attempted to cross the California border into Mexico, from which
the computers would have been shipped into Cuba.
The Federal government has refused to release the computers, apparently due
to the Pastors for Peace refusal to obtain a Treasury Department license
for the shipment, as required under laws governing the U.S. embargo of
Dr. Campbell's statement to the news conference follows:
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. is the
nation's oldest and largest ecumenical body. The combined membership of
our 33 member churches is 51 million people.
The NCCC has historic policy commitments opposing the Cuban blockade. This
policy has been affirmed and reaffirmed over 25 years. Our concern flows
from our involvement with our partner churches in Cuba. We know from first
hand visits the desperate needs of Cuban men, women and children. We have
delivered humanitarian aid - food and medicine - to the Cuban people
through the Cuban Ecumenical Council. We are clear, however, that these
gifts, as welcome as they are - as needed as they are - cannot meet the
increasing needs of the Cuban people who are in need of adequate food and
medicines. The historic blockade of the U.S. Government must be lifted if
the suffering of the Cuban people is to be relieved.
Dr. Lucius Walker has spoken to our consciences. His willingness to fast
and pray demands from us renewed energy to end the blockade.
The issue before us is not simply that of getting medical computers into
Cuba. It is this inhumane blockade. It must be ended. It violates moral
principles and makes no international sense. Practically alone among the
nations our country, largely for domestic political reasons keeps alive
this outward remnant of cold war diplomacy.
We must begin to take the needs of the Cuban people seriously. There must
be a way to respond beyond the way of punitive action. Whatever the past,
we bear the name of the one who counseled "Love your enemies. Forgive
those who despitefully use you. Turn the other cheek." Is this only
foolish Bible talk? Is it possible to be guided by the radical morality of
faith because it has the power to create new possibilities when the
politics of nations have become exhausted? In the heritage of our faith we
call on President William Clinton to guide our nation beyond retribution in
the matter of Cuba.
(This NCC news release includes excerpts from a news release from Cong.
Charles B. Rangel that was distributed at the news conference.)
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