Support of the Episcopal Church in Cuba

08.13.15 | by Rene Somodevilla

Support of the Episcopal Church in Cuba

Editor’s note: Rene Somodevilla is the interim Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. He was born in Cuba and moved to the United States at the age of 14. He wrote the following in response to Resolution B003 from General Convention and is in favor of supporting the Episcopal Church in Cuba.

With the aftermath of our recent General Convention’s decision on same sex blessings, other very important resolutions are forgotten, and consequently not even discussed at the local level.

I want to refer to Resolution B003 Support for The Episcopal Church in Cuba.

With all the recent efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, it appears that the Episcopal Church has decided to jump in the bandwagon, which I believe is the right thing to do.

I was born in Cuba and left the island as a refugee in 1960. I last visited Cuba in November 2011 with a group that delivered more than 200 pounds of supplied, mostly toiletry items, for the Episcopal Cathedral in Habana, and San Francisco de Asis in the province of Matanzas. The goal was for these churches to disseminate donations among the poor in their communities.

Also, we carried hymnals, altar candles, communion hosts, and other supplies, which were scarce in Cuba for the local Episcopal Churches. Why such supplies?

The Episcopal Church in Cuba is the denomination most affected by the American Embargo.

Other denominations receive support from other countries with which Cuba trades. Remember that the United States is the only country that has an embargo against the island of Cuba. Support for other denominations and faiths on the island, comes from throughout the world.

When we visited Cuba, we had the opportunity to have breakfast with Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio and her husband. The conversation focused on the common human needs that exist on the island, and how the Church could best help. For instance, she was raising funds for a used Fiat automobile so a priest would have transportation to work at four churches on any given Sunday. With the thin financial structure on the island, finding $14,000 among the people is nearly impossible.

The third resolve of B003 is, to me, one of two very important parts of this Resolution.” Mutual ministry and understanding, prayer, fellowship, education, and humanitarian work …” These are so needed so that our brothers and sisters in Cuba can see and experience that they are a part of the Anglican Communion, not forgotten by their spiritual family 90 miles north of them.

As a recently retiree from full time active ministry in the Church, I now receive my retirement support from CPG. Our fellow deacons and presbyters in Cuba do not have such a benefit. The fifth resolve of Resolution B003 speaks to this need. It is my hope that we in the Church move with a concerted effort to see that Resolution B003 of the General Convention of 2015 becomes a reality.