Cubans welcome news of pope’s visit in September

Published 9:24 am Friday, April 24, 2015

HAVANA — Cubans welcomed the news Wednesday that Pope Francis will visit in September, with many calling it a powerful reinforcement of his support for detente between the United States and Cuba.

Francis has been credited with helping the United States and Cuba reach a historic rapprochement by writing to the leaders of both countries and having the Vatican host their delegations for the final negotiations. Francis’ visit to Cuba would be a way for him to push the process forward.

Francis is scheduled to visit three U.S. cities starting around Sept. 23. He will address Congress and meet with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, address the United Nations in New York and attend a church rally for families in Philadelphia.

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The church is planning to restore a dozen more churches, parish houses and other buildings in Cuba as part of quiet reconciliation between the Holy See and the government that has brought relations to a historic high point. Authorities have also given permission for the construction of the first two new churches in more than five decades.

“This visit by the pope, besides the help that he gave to detente between Cuba and the United States, gives me a lot of faith that life will get better and there are better days ahead for the Cuban people,” said Catalina Rita, a 65-year-old street performer.