Above: the meeting in the Vatican City
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Cuba President Raul Castro and Pope Francis met privately in the Vatican City early Sunday morning.
According to a note from the press office of the Holy See, the meeting lasted “a little over an hour,” with the two spending “considerable time in conversation in the Holy Father’s study inside Paul VI Hall.”
The conversation itself lasted more than 50 minutes and was described as “very friendly,” in the Vatican’s statement.
“The President told reporters before leaving the Vatican that he had thanked the Holy Father for the active role he played in favor of improving relations between Cuba and the United States of America, and also presented to the Pope the sentiments of the Cuban people – sentiments of expectation and preparation for the Holy Father’s visit the island in September,” the Vatican said.
It was the first meeting between the two; Castro’s delegation to Europe included Vice President of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla and Minister of the Armed Forces Leopoldo Cintra Frias.
Pope Francis was reportedly instrumental in last year’s historic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba, and Cuba’s government said in a statement that Castro thanked the Pope for his contribution in that regard.