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US bishops anticipate historic Castro meeting

17 April 2015

TWELVE Episcopalian bishops travelled from the United States to Cuba last week, days before the Presidents of the two countries had an historic meeting in Panama City. The meeting of Barack Obama and Raúl Castro took place on the fringes of the Summit of the Americas, on Friday. It was the first formal talk between the leaders of the two countries in 50 years, after the beginning of a thaw in relations in December.

Vatican Radio reported on Saturday that Pope Francis and the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin had played a part in "brokering secret talks" between the two countries.

The 12 bishops arrived in Cuba on Tuesday of last week, at the invitation of the Bishop of Cuba, the Rt Revd Griselda Delgado del Carpio. The visit follows a vote last year in the Cuban Church's synod, by 39 votes to 33, to take steps to return to its former affiliation with the Episcopal Church in the US, which was severed at the time of the Cuba revolution, 54 years ago.

"The feeling was that, because of the embargo and negative relationships with the United States, it was not appropriate to make this relationship," the Bishop of Western New York, the Rt Revd R. William Franklin, told the WBFO radio before his departure.

The bishops, who were consecrated in the same year as Bishop del Carpio, had been invited "as a way of building unity in her Church, so that they could move from division over this vote to acceptance".

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