Pope to Visit Cuba Before U.S. Trip

Pope Francis is to visit Cuba before his arrival in the United States in September, the Vatican has announced.

In a short statement issued this morning, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: 

“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 Vatican has yet to give a precise date for the trip, the first papal visit to Cuba since Benedict XVI visited there in March 2012. Pope St. John Paul II visited the communist island nation in 1998. 

The visit comes on the heels of restored diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba, brokered by the Holy See earlier this year. 

The exact dates of the Pope's U.S. trip have also yet to be confirmed, but the Holy Father is slated to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra on September 23 in Washington D.C., address a joint session of the United States Congress in the U.S. capital on September 25, and celebrate a papal Mass on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on September 27.