Delegation of U.S. Bishops to visit church in Cuba to follow up on hurricane relief aid

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WASHINGTON-A delegation of three U.S. Catholic bishops will visit Cuba on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), August 17-21. Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston, Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Fla., and Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Antonio will join Father Andrew Small, OMI, director for the Church in Latin America at the USCCB, on the journey to meet with Cuban Church leaders and visit parishes.

"We will be visiting parishes in Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba," said Father Small. "Our main focus will be to follow up on the extraordinary grant awarded to the Church in Cuba after last year's hurricanes." In the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the Church in Cuba received over $860,000, with more than $250,000 earmarked for 11 projects directly related to hurricane recovery.

"We will be visiting those impacted areas and seeing what kind of clean up has taken place since last year and how else we might help the Church in Cuba," said Father Small.

USCCB welcomed the move by the Obama Administration in April to relax restrictions on Cuban-American travel and the regulation in remittances to Cuba. The U.S. bishops also urge passage of the "Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act" (H.R. 874 and S. 428), which would remove travel restrictions to Cuba for all Americans.

The Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America oversees the U.S. Bishop Collection for the Church in Latin America, taken up in dioceses across the United States every year. Last year, over $7 million was raised to help support pastoral programs and faith formation in Latin America and the Caribbean.