Cuban President Raul Castro received a warm welcome at the Vatican Sunday from Pope Francis, who played a key role in the breakthrough between Washington and Havana aimed at restoring U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties. “Bienvenido!” Francis said in his native Spanish, welcoming Castro in a studio near the Vatican public audience hall. The Cuban president, bowing his head, gripped Francis’ hand with both of his, and the two men began their private talks. The meeting lasted nearly an hour, as the Argentine-born Francis and Castro spoke in their native Spanish. Francis will visit Cuba in September en route to the United States. Castro had already publicly thanked Francis for helping to bring Havana and Washington closer together after decades of U.S. government policy of strict isolation of the Communist-ruled Caribbean island. On Sunday, he stepped up his praise on Francis’ push for the two nations to put enmity aside and work for reconciliation. As he took his leave, Castro told journalists, “I thanked the pope for what he did.” Later, at the Italian premier’s office, Castro praised Francis for his “wisdom, modesty and all his other qualities.” “I read all the speeches of the pope,” Castro said.
“Bienvenido!” Pope welcomes Raul Castro to the Vatican
Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 05/10/15
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