Pope Francis first visits Cuba welcomed by thousands

It’s the 78-year-old pontiff’s first visit to Cuba but the third papal trip to the island in just two decades. Pope John Paul II’s groundbreaking visit to Cuba in 1998 was followed by a 2012 visit by Pope Benedict XVI. This trip carries added significance as the pontiff played a key role in the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the USA and Cuba by sending personal letters to Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro last year, urging an end to their Cold War relationship.

Pope Francis’s global appeal, being the first Latin American pope and his ability to deliver speeches in his native Spanish could make his trip particularly impactful to Cubans, said Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America…


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