Pope Francis will visit Cuba later this year

Posted: 24-May-15 11:59

Pope Francis will stop off in Cuba this September, as he travels to the US to address a joint session of congress. The visit comes just months after he helped thaw the relationship between the two countries... and plans are already under way for his visit.

Pope Francis will visit Cuba later this year

On September 19, the Pope will land in Havana, and then travel the entire country - finishing off in Santiago de Cuba on September 22 - a visit that is likely to bring tourists to Cuba from across the globe.

A short message on the Cuban Catholic Bishops' Conference website announced the visit, which will be the first papal visit to Cuba since 2012, when Pope Benedict XVI made a trip to the island. Previously, St. John Paul II had travelled to Cuba in 1998.

A statement also said that the visit was in response to the invitation from Cuba's civil authorities and bishops.

Last week, Cuba's president, Raul Castro, thanked the pope for repairing diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, after years of hostility - ever since Fidel Castro led the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Castro himself even promised to visit all of the pope's masses while he was visiting the country.

Since the revolution, the Roman Catholic Church has maintained relations with Cuba. It has pushed for the US to lift the trade embargo for years, supported Cuban Catholics, and pushed for political prisoners in Havana to be released.

Francis had made a personal plea to both Barack Obama and Raul Castro to ask for them to both end the years of friction. Keen on diplomatic international relations, the pope's discussions with the two presidents was kept a secret, until the surprise announcement in December by Obama that the two countries were making moves to restore diplomatic ties.

After visiting Cuba, the pope will head north to the US, visiting Washington, where he will address Congress, New York, where he will address the UN assembly, and Philadelphia, where he will hold a public mass.


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