Pope Francis is considering to add a stop in Cuba during his U.S. trip in September but until now now official decision has been made, said the Vatican.
Pope Francis has been lauded for his help offered to United States and Cuba in reaching their historic renewal of ties by writing to the leaders of both countries. Francis also offered the Vatican as the place where their delegations will be hosted for the final negotiations.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, explained Pope Francis “is considering the idea of a Cuba stop” but that discussions with Havana are at an early stage. He added it’s too soon to say that an arrangement has been made or that there is an operational plan underway.
Francis is scheduled to reach three U.S. cities in the last week of September. He will speak in Congress and have a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. Pope Francis will also address the U.N. in New York and participate at a church rally in Philadelphia.
A Cuba stop could be possible on either end of the United States trip. If he goes to Havana, Francis would become the third pope to visit the Cuban nation after the historic 1998 visit of St. John Paul II. Then, the Vatican leader said Cuba should “open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.”
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI also went to Cuba, on a 2012 trip during which he expressed the Vatican’s long-standing position that the U.S. sanctions and embargo was unjust and was only felt by the most vulnerable people on the island.
Francis also declared himself out against the U.S. embargo while also blaming socialism.
Francis’ intervention in the U.S.-Cuban negotiations was one of the most visible signs that he wants the Vatican to have greater influence in international diplomacy. A more controversial mediation was his recent declaration about the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago, an act Francis considers it was “genocide.”
Catholics in Cuba are used to have greater religious freedom than the believers form other Communist states.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday The Wall Street Journal was the first media outlet to report the possibility of the pope visiting Cuba later this year.
Image Source: National Catholic Register