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Pope Francis To Visit Cuba

Pope Francis will be making a stop in Cuba on his way to the United States in September. The pontiff announced that he has received an invitation from the government and bishops of Cuba and has accepted their offer. Francis will be the third pope to visit the island nation after his predecessors Pope John Paul II in 1998 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. Pope Francis was instrumental in bringing the United States and Cuba to the table for the historic talks that led to the current thaw in relations between the two bitter foes. The pope believes that the economic embargo put in place by the United States has caused a humanitarian crisis in Cuba and that it was time that both countries put the past to rest and move forward. Both President Obama and Raul Castro have credited the pope as being instrumental during the process.

Pope Francis has dedicated his pontificate with making the world a better place for the poor. Lord knows, Cuba has a lot of poor people. The communist system has led to widespread poverty exacerbated by the United States’ embargo. Though the pope has praised Cuba on its education and health care system, he says that changes on the island need to happen in order to improve the lives of the Cuban people. When I was a kid, my relatives on the island used to have to practice their Catholicism quietly as it was frowned upon to be religious in an atheistic Communist country. But in the 90’s, before Pope John Paul’s visit, religious freedom was made the law of the land. It will be interesting to see what the pope has to say when he arrives.

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