Pope Francis Plans to Visit Cuba This Year

Apr 22, 2015 by

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Pope Francis Plans to Visit Cuba This Year

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Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Wednesday. Officials said he would go to Cuba before arriving in the United States, which he is expected to visit in September. Credit Filippo Monteforte/Agence

ROME — Pope Francis will visit Cuba later this year, stopping there on his way to the United States, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

“I am able to confirm that the Holy Father Francis, having received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba, has decided to pay a visit to the island before his arrival in the United States for the trip announced some time ago,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said in a statement.

Francis’s two immediate predecessors each made a papal visit to Cuba — John Paul II in 1998 and Benedict XVI in 2012.

Vatican Radio said that the planned visit was “especially significant in light of the role played by Pope Francis in diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Cuba,” which produced an agreement in December to ease tensions and restore diplomatic relations after decades of animosity. This month in Panama, the presidents of the United States and Cuba met face to face for the first time in more than 50 years.

“Leaders from both nations have publicly thanked Pope Francis for his aid in negotiations,” the Vatican Radio report noted.

The pope is expected to visit Philadelphia in September for the World Meeting of Families, and will also visit Washington and New York during the trip. The Vatican did not release any specifics on Wednesday about the stop in Cuba.

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