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Pope Francis Meets With Raul Castro At The Vatican

Cuban president Raul Castro traveled to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis to thank him for his role in ending the American/Cuban detente. This is ahead of the Pope visiting the island nation in September on his way to the United States. Castro is, of course, a communist and therefore traditionally an atheist. Up until the 90’s, religion was outlawed in Cuba. That all changed when Francis’ predecessor John Paul II visited Cuba and then president Fidel Castro instituted religious freedom in the communist country. In the years since Cuba has opened new churches, protestant as well as catholic, as well as allowing aid from the American Jewish community for the island’s tiny Jewish population. They have also given a broad allowance to Cuba’s African based religions like Santeria and Palo Mayombe.

The most striking admistion by Castro is about Pope Francis himself. It seems that the old revolutionary is caught up in what has been called “the Pope Francis Effect”. Namely, that the charisma of this particular pope and his progressive policies are leading people back to the Church. Castro said,

“When the pope goes to Cuba in September, I promise to go to all his Masses, and with satisfaction. 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…I am from the Cuban Communist Party, that doesn’t allow (religious) believers, but now we are allowing it, it’s an important step.”

That Pope is something else. But what did you expect from the first Latino pontiff?


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