Magazine article The Christian Century

Elian's Father Thanks Religious Community

Magazine article The Christian Century

Elian's Father Thanks Religious Community

Article excerpt

On June 28 the Supreme Court brought the seven-month custody fight over Elian Gonzalez to a close when it rejected appeals from Miami family members that would have kept the boy in the U.S. Shortly after the decision, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, Elian's father, boarded a plane at Washington's Dulles Airport and returned with his family to Cuba.

The day before the ruling, Juan Gonzalez brought Elian to the United Methodist Building in Washington to thank the religious community for its help in reuniting him with his son. They were accompanied by five of Ellen's classmates and their parents, along with other family members and friends. Gonzalez told a group of people employed by different church, ecumenical and nonprofit organizations that they had become friends.

"I wanted to come again to meet you all on behalf of my family and the people who accompany me to express our deepest appreciation for everything you have done," he said, speaking through an interpreter. "Words are not enough to express our deepest appreciation to you." He said he was happy "to have very good friends here in the United States" and to see them once again.

In welcoming the group, Thom White Wolf Fassett, staff head of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, acknowledged that United Methodists and other religious people had played a role in uniting father and son, and that for him the issue was "as simple as that." Added Fassett: "We have withstood the great negative opposition, the politicizing on an issue that has to do with a father and his child, to bring us to a point that we hope and pray that, at least by tomorrow, we can celebrate completely. …

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