Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 17 January |
Saint of the Day: St. Anthony of Egypt
home iconNews
line break icon

Pope Francis Lauded on Role in New Cuba Policy


Mark Stricherz - published on 12/18/14

Obama, Castro announce release of prisoners, indicate normalizing relations.

WASHINGTON – President Obama said Pope Francis helped the United States and Cuba re-establish long-severed diplomatic ties by urging the leaders of the two countries to exchange political prisoners and one American hostage. 

“I want to thank Pope Francis, whose moral example shows the world as it should be rather than settling for how it is,” Obama said at the end of his nationally televised speech 

The president’s words represented a rare example in which an American leader went out of his way to praise a Roman Pontiff for helping broker an international agreement. 

The Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Paolin, released a statement that said representatives from the United States and Cuba met at the Vatican to discuss resuming diplomatic ties last October. 

“The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history,” the statement said.

Obama’s announcement means that the United States has committed to re-establishing an embassy in Cuba and having an American ambassador to the island nation. 
The United States cut diplomatic ties in 1961, two years after Fidel Castro, the retired military commander of Cuba, took control of the government in a military coup. 
“These 50 years have shown that isolation does not work. 
It’s time for a new approach,” Obama said in the address, which all four major television networks covered live.

But getting funding to build an embassy in Cuba and an ambassadorial nominee through the Senate may prove difficult. 

Key senators from both parties criticized the announcement. 
Democrat Robert Menendez of NewJersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Obama’s announcement “vindicates the brutal behavior of the Cuban government. Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, who will chair a key Foreign Relations subcommittee, said “The White House gave everything to gain very little.”

On Wednesday morning, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville met with President Obama and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office, according to Don Clemmer, a spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Archbishop 
Kurtz is president of the USCCB. Clemmer said Archbishop Kurtz requested the meeting to “discussion the priority issues of the bishops,” but provided no other details about the meeting.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Louisville was unavailable for comment.

CubaPoliticsPope Francis
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.