Presidents Barack Obama of the US and Raul Castro of Cuba both thanked Pope Francis for helping bring the two nations together after decades of tension.
When announcing to the world about the United States’ major change in its policies with Cuba, President Barack Obama thanked Pope Francis for his contributions in bringing the two nations to more agreeable terms. Cuban President Raul Castro also thanked the Pope during his address on the new deal. Apparently the Pope had more than a minor role in the recent change in relations between Cuba and the United States of America. Many around the world were stunned by the recent statements made by both Cuban and American leaders that the two nations will remove their barriers between each other and resume diplomatic relations. Four prisoners – one American held in Cuba, and three Cubans held in America – have also been released. But American President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro cannot claim all of the credit for this change in diplomatic relations as it was fueled in large part by Pope Francis.
In October, Pope Francis wrote letters to both leaders, urging them to reconsider the plight of the four prisoners and encouraging them to begin speaking again in the political sense. It is believed that Pope Francis made the decision to intervene in world politics because of his background: he grew up in the South American country of Argentina during the height of the Cold War years but has since traveled all over the world. Because of his background and position, Pope Francis has a unique perspective on the relationship between Cuba and the United States of America. After the letter was received, Cuban and American envoys went to the Vatican to discuss new commitments which have now come to fruition. Vatican officials were also present in other negotiations between Cuba and the United States making it the only other nation represented during the talks.
The Vatican has long held relations with Cuba. Earlier this year, the two nations celebrated their 79 years of diplomatic relations with an exhibit in Rome. While Pope Francis is credited with being the final push to amend the relations between the United States and Cuba, Pope John Paul II gained significant favor that undoubtedly helped today’s deal go through back in the ’90s when he convinced then-president Fidel Castro to remove Cuba’s official atheist stance to the more secular identity it holds now.
The country of Cuba has been seen to be isolated for many years, and many people from Cuba have wanted to join the modern world without sacrificing their country’s own individuality. Hopefully, inspired by this move with the United States of America, other nations that have held similar tensions will be able to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba.