Monday, September 30, 2013


Hijas de la Pasion de Jesucristo y de Maria Dolorosa, and my wife Ande, at their convent en la Parroquia de Santa Barbara, Barrio de Parraga, Havana Cuba, April 2001 - No fine yet for breaking the walls of embargo.  

This week's Gospel is the story of Dives [the rich, in Latin] and Lazarus, the beggar at his gate.  It was the scripture that came to my mind at the time my wife and I were threatened with $1000 plus fines for a vacation/mission trip to Cuba in April 2001 when we delivered some medical supplies to a group of nuns working with the poor in Havana.  Technically we were trading with the enemy.
We contested in administrative court in Washington D.C., and in Feb. 2005, were given a $5000 plus penalty.

he opposing lawyers did seem moved by our argument that included the parable of Dives & Lazarus, warning of the fate of those who persist in putting walls between haves and have-nots.  Our attorney made a quick appeal of the judgment against us.  There has been no word from the government since--no attempt to collect.  Every year the United Nations votes 160 + to 2 against the Cuba embargo.  Its time for our country to tear down this embargo wall.

August 4, 2006

Dear Editors of the Wall Street Journal,

            In this time of transition in Cuba, its time to give the Cuban people a definite sign of our ability to welcome change.  We applaud the recommendation in your 8-2-06 editorial, “The Fabulous Castro Boys,” that we should repeal the Helms-Burton Act, and encourage commerce and constructive interaction between our two countries.  The outdated barriers of embargo and travel restriction have been harmful to Cubans, Cuban-Americans, and U.S. business and civic interests across the board.

            My wife and I made a trip to Cuba, and gave some small support to a group of Catholic nuns there in 2001.  Traveling independently, without Cuban guide or approvals, we met people of all political persuasions, living simple, poor but dignified lives.  For that we were sanctioned by our own government, and became one of the first cases to face a Treasury Department administrative law judge in December 2004.  The outcome is still in limbo, appealed within Treasury, no action taken, and no fine imposed.  We believe that the majority in our government, and country, are convinced our current policy is wrong and counterproductive.

Our country is in danger of becoming a gated community {see Luke 16:19-31-- the Rich Man and Lazarus}.  Instead, on every front, our people need to reach out to other cultures, friend and foe, to be peacemakers.  It’s a question of our salvation. As the rich people, shutting ourselves off from the mutually healing contact with the poor, we court the disaster of the gate, turned into the eternal abyss.  {see the John J. Pilch, Georgetown University,  exposition of the above passage, pp 142-44, in The Cultural Word of Jesus, Cycle C, The Liturgical Press, 1997--[very worthwhile books].}

As Fidel Castro’s ability to lead diminishes, and as Raul’s direction is in question, I have confidence the Cuban people will make positive adjustments, and I hope we ourselves have the courage to make the first moves towards reconciliation.  The Archdiocese of Miami {witness their program En Comunion} and the Vatican {remember Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1998} have stood ready for years to help heal old animosities while respecting Cuban sovereignty.  May Congress heed your call, and confirm legislation that will open doors too long closed.

Yours truly,

Michael McCarthy PA-C,
Blue Water Pax Christi
Port Huron, MI   48060

This is how it appeared edited in the August 8, 2006 WSJ, clipped of much of it spiritual commentary.
Our society continues to ignore the whole world--rich & poor--implications of the Gospel.  Good for most, not so good for some who'd attempt to drag their feet with their possessions into eternity.
Dives and Lazarus
"It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God's will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you - try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God's will yourself!"      - Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation, chapter 14, p. 107 (1949).
      Words that need to be heard, especially now, in the halls of Congress.
Illumination, and much support during our Cuba trial in D.C., provided by Kathy Brahney, and her husband and friends, and many others.


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