WNY Episcopal Bishop travels to Cuba to reopen international church relations
Twelve Episcopal Bishops from around the country are headed to Cuba on Tuesday, in an effort to redevelop relations between the church’s dioceses, and continue the expansion of U.S.-Cuban relations. Western New York’s Bishop R. William Franklin will be among them.
As Bishop Franklin prepared to embark on his journey, he said it will help him to see how Christian life is being lived in another culture.
“And particularly in a culture which in the last years has been hostile to our expression of Christianity,” said Franklin.
Relations between the Episcopal churches in the United States and Cuba were broken at the start of the Cuban revolution. The country was officially declared atheist, and began a history of suppression and harassment of its religious community. That began to change in the mid-90's with a visit from the Catholic Pope, and a change to official secularity. Since then, Franklin said there has been much more freedom of speech for religion, and an opportunity for education.
There are many lessons the Bishop hopes to learn, and questions to be answered, such as, “How do we derive hope, and joy, and inspiration from times when they get hard?”
Franklin and his fellow Bishops will meet with members of the Cuban Episcopal community throughout the island, as well as members of the government’s Office of Religious Affairs.
In the wake of last week’s debate over religious freedom in the U.S., Franklin said he would bring lessons of the church’s stance on welcoming the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender community. He says it is a fundamental part of the Western New York diocese.
The Bishop also noted that the story of resurrection in this season ties in well with the mission of rekindling international relations.
Franklin said, “I can think of nothing better than to spend the week after Easter being inspired by Christian action.”
The group was invited by Cuba’s Episcopal Bishop, Griselda Delgado del Carpio.