VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will receive Cuban president Raul Castro this Sunday morning, in a “strictly private” May 10 audience, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi announced. The meeting will take place in the Pope’s studio in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
“As we know, President Raul Castro has publicly thanked the Pope for the role he played in the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, and the Pope will be going to the Caribbean island in September prior to coming to the United States,” Father Lombardi stated.
The Pope’s visit to Cuba was officially announced April 22, but the exact date and details of the visit are not yet known.
Italian Cardinal Beniamo Stella, prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, visited the island April 22-28. He was the papal nuncio in Cuba from 1993 to 1999 and helped organize St. John Paul II’s visit in 1998, the first ever papal visit to Cuba. Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in March 2012.
Cardinal Stella’s visit took place after the announcement on Dec. 17 last year that the U.S. and Cuba would reestablish diplomatic relations. Both countries credited the Holy See for its fundamental contribution to that process.
Pope Francis will travel to the United States to participate in the World Meeting of Families that will take place in Philadelphia Sept. 22-25.