Pope Francis Urges Cuba and the U.S. to Persevere on the Path of Reconciliation
When Pope Francis visited Cuba in late September he was the third pope to visit Cuba, preceded by Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI. However as an Argentinian and the first pope from Latin America, he has been able to play a crucial role in talks between the U.S. and Cuba. In December of 2014, he facilitated and mediated meetings between both countries that resulted in important steps toward the normalization of relations. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba were restored, with embassies opening in both countries. Some U.S. travel restrictions have been eased and Cuba has been removed from the U.S. terrorist list.
In this recent visit to Cuba, Pope Francis praised the talks as “an example of reconciliation for the entire world” and as “an event which fills us with hope.” He urged both countries to "persevere on the path" of reconciliation because “the world needs reconciliation in this atmosphere of a third world war.” Subsequently, in his homily at the Havana’s Revolution Square, he advocated for the peace talks, taking place in Cuba for the past three years, between the Colombian government and the FARC. Also, in this mass, he urged Cubans to serve one another and gave words of encouragement to young people in Cuba.
Travelling to the U.S. from Cuba, the Pope addressed Congress and the United Nations General Assembly, expressing his support for the recent talks. While addressing Congress, he said, “I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all.” The Vatican has long opposed the embargo, citing the suffering caused by the policy. One day before his arrival on the island, Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama, talked by phone and agreed to further changes in regulations and restrictions. The Pope’s recent trip to both countries, demonstrates his support of this process and of opening a pathway to the end of the embargo, which can only be ended by Congress.
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