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Pope Francis received a visit from Raul Castro, who is the president of Cuba. The visit was made to thank Pope Francis for helping out with the Cuban and US negotiations. Castro greatly enjoyed the meeting, and stated that Pope Francis had such an impact on him that he is considering going back to the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis and Castro spoke for about an hour and seemed to be having a great time, according to The Boston Herald. Francis or the Pontiff, as he is also known, is from Argentina so the two men spoke in Spanish the entire time. The Pontiff will be making a visit to Cuba in September on his way to the United States. Castro had nothing but praise for the Pontiff after leaving the Vatican. The Boston Herald stated the Castro was, in fact, gushing with great things to say. He added that he feels that he is and always will be a Jesuit just like Pope Francis.
Castro even said that he would attend all of the Pontiff’s masses when he visits the United States, and added that he would enjoy them very much. He went on to say that he has read all of the Pontiff’s speeches and listened to all of his interviews, and that Pope Francis has the power to draw him back to praying and attending church. Cuba, and the decisions of its leaders, has brought about criticism from the Vatican in the past. Castro said that he is aware that he is from a country that is known for not being religious, but he wants to change that and is taking the necessary steps to do so.
The Cuban leader said that he has been inspired by Pope Francis in that he is so wise and so virtuous. He feels that the inspiration from Francis may even lead to him returning to Catholicism. The Pope has made an effort to bring together The United States and Cuba, and Castro is grateful for that. He made it known to the world how much he appreciates the Pontiff’s assistance in this matter. CNN added that both men are hoping for a full reconciliation between the United States and Cuba, and they both hope that the two nations can put aside their differences.
The Cuban leader announced that he is preparing for the future visit of Francis, and wants to make him feel welcome with the help of his fellow Cubans. He made known to the Pope his plans for the September visit. Castro was baptized in the Roman Catholic religion, along with his brother Fidel. The family did not remain in the faith, though, and the interest in the religion ended after the revolution.
The Slate mentioned that the Cuban president said that limitations, in terms of religion, eased up a bit back in 1996. He said that his brother was also influenced by a visit with the Pope. Back in 1996 the Pontiff was Pope John Paul II. Castro said that even though his country does not permit believers, his goal is to change that.
The Pope has been planning a trip to the United States for a while now, and will make a stop in Cuba on his way there. His stay in Cuba is expected to be for two days. He has not visited either country since he was made Pope. The previous two Popes visited Cuba and met Castro’s brother, Fidel. Castro is looking forward to another visit with Pope Francis, and hopes that they can continue to help mend the rift that has existed between the United States and Cuba for a long time. The Cuban president is so impressed with Pope Francis that he may head back to church and start praying again, according to CS Monitor. He has been inspired, therefore anything is possible.
By Heather Granruth
Photo By– Creativecommons Flickr License