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Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties

December 17, 2014

Pope Francis played a key role in mediating talks between the US and Cuba, resulting in an exchange of prisoners and opening the way for the first direct talks between the neighboring countries in more than 50 years.

At a December 17 news conference in Washington, President Barack Obama acknowledged the importance of the papal intervention: “I want to thank Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is,” he said. Obama revealed that the Pope had written personal appeals to him and to Cuban President Raul Castro, urging a release of prisoners and a diplomatic thaw.

The Vatican later disclosed that in October, the Holy See had quietly arranged to receive diplomatic delegations from the US and Cuba for “a constructive dialogue on delicate matters.” The Vatican statement promised that the Holy See would continue to support diplomatic efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.

“The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history,” the Vatican announced.

The breakthrough in US-Cuba relations represents a major victory for Vatican foreign policy. As John Allen of Crux points out, since the papacy of St. John Paul II, the Holy See has actively supported an end to the US embargo on Cuba and a restoration of diplomatic ties.

Obama administration officials have indicated that Secretary of State John Kerry will begin formal talks with Cuba in the near future, looking toward the opening of an American embassy in Havana for the first time since 1961.


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  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Dec. 18, 2014 12:31 AM ET USA

    This will be good for the govt of Cuba, bu twill do little for the people of Cuba, as long as the current regime remains in control. Well-intentioned but misguided. We are rewarding the regime for its continued bad behavior. Sen Rubio is correct on this.

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Dec. 17, 2014 11:40 PM ET USA

    I applaud the action of the Holy Father. Lest conservative Catholics worry: remember that SAINT John Paul II spoke out against the U.S. embargo while visiting Cuba back in 1998. Just repeat after me: "I'm a Catholic before I'm a Republican."