Pope Francis will visit Cuba before his trip to the United States in September, the Vatican announced on Wednesday. The last pontiff to visit communist Cuba was Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict.
US News Reported:
The Vatican confirmed Wednesday that Pope Francis will visit Cuba before he arrives in the U.S.
“I confirm that there will be a stop,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters. He said details of the visit hadn’t yet been worked out but that Francis “has decided to carry out a stop on the Island before coming to the United States.”
Francis was key in brokering the new chapter in U.S.-Cuban relations announced by President Barack Obama and Cuban President Castro in December. The Vatican hosted negotiations, which were secret at the time, between the two countries before they announced they would seek to normalize diplomatic relations. This includes establishing embassies in each country as well as strengthening economic ties, although the formal U.S. embargo, opposed by the Vatican, can only be lifted by Congress.
Both Castro and Obama publicly credited the pope for his role in encouraging dialogue between the Catholic island and the U.S. The 2 leaders met in Panama at the Summit of the Americas earlier this month, the first time presidents of the U.S. and Cuba had met in more than 50 years. Obama said he was “optimistic” that the dialogue would be “a turning point.”