Wouldn’t it be funny if the history of relations between the United States and Cuba were bookended in history by two Catholics? On the one end, there is the Cuban Missile Crisis standoff that featured President John F. Kennedy. On the other end, it could very well end up being the Numero Uno Catholic in the world: Pope Francis.
Like it or not, relations between the United States and Cuba are thawing. And the man who runs that country is placing a lot of credit at the feet of a man who has impressed many here in America too.
After meeting with the Pope at the Vatican ahead of an upcoming papal visit to Cuba, Cuban President Raul Castro said at a news conference that he and the pope have something in common. ” He is a Jesuit, and I, in some way, am too,” Castro said. “I always studied at Jesuit schools.”
But Castro went further. One of the last vestiges of what Americans used to call “Godless Communism” shocked the world.
“When the pope goes to Cuba in September, I promise to go to all his Masses, and with satisfaction,” Castro said. “I read all the speeches of the pope, his commentaries, and if the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church, and I’m not joking,” he said.
In fact Castro showed Pope Francis’ influence is reaching pst him, all the way into the Communist Party in his country.
“I am from the Cuban Communist Party, that doesn’t allow (religious) believers, but now we are allowing it, it’s an important step,” Castro said.
Castro said he is “very impressed by [Pope Francis’] wisdom, his modesty, and all his virtues that we know he has.”
Castro gave much credit for the recent improvement in U.S-Cuba relations to Pope Francis.
“I thanked the pope for what he did,” he said.