Pope Francis to visit Cuba in September

Pope Francis will officially make a trip to Cuba in September.

Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, confirmed that the pope will visit Cuba before his United States visit in the last week of September. The Vatican said last week that the pope was mulling the idea of a trip, but discussions to do so were in the preliminary state.

Pope Francis, who will now become the third pope to visit the island nation and the first since 1998, has been credited with the renewal of diplomatic talks between the U.S. and Cuba. Pope Francis wrote letters to both President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro last summer that helped lead to the eventual release of U.S. prisoner Alan Gross and the opening of talks between the two countries.

In one of his December letters, Pope Francis called for the two presidents “to resolve humanitarian questions of common interest, including the situation of certain prisoners, in order to initiate a new phase in relations.” He also also called on the U.S. to ends its travel and trade restrictions on Cuba.

The pope will visit Washington, New York and Philadelphia starting around Sept. 23, after his visit to the island nation.

(H/T The Associated Press)

By Kelly Cohen, Washington Examiner

April 22, 2015

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