Pope Francis, in his first week back at the Vatican after abdominal surgery, met with the Cuban president
ViaFRANCES D’EMILIO Associated Press
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, in his first week back in the Vatican after abdominal surgery, met Tuesday with the Cuban president, part of the Holy See’s attention to the communist-led Caribbean island nation.
The Holy See’s brief statement about the private meeting with President Miguel Diaz-Canel gave no details of what the pope and the Cuban leader discussed. But it did mention “the importance of diplomatic relations between the Holy See, recalling among other things the historic visit of Saint John Paul II in 1998,” during a subsequent meeting with the Secretary of State. of the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The Cuban prelate and leader also discussed “the situation of Cuba and the contribution the Church makes, especially in the area of charity,” the statement said.
Cuba has been grappling with an economic crisis.
Pope Francis visited Cuba in 2015, as part of the Vatican’s efforts to encourage better international relations. That mission included the 1998 papal pilgrimage, the first by a pope to Cuba.
Parolin and Diaz-Canel also discussed “several international topics of common interest,” but the Vatican did not specify which. “The importance of remaining committed to always supporting the common good” was also emphasized, the Holy See said.
Doctors have urged Francis, 86, to speed himself up as he recovers from surgery on June 7 to repair her hernia and remove painful scars from previous surgeries.
Heeding their advice, Francis will not hold his traditional Wednesday morning audience with pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square this week. Weekly appointments for the past summer were suspended for July, due to the hot weather and to allow the Holy Father some time to rest.
At the end of the avenue leading to St Peter’s Square, a handful of protesters protested the Pope’s reception of the Cuban leader. They organized to demand that human rights be respected in Cuba and the release of political prisoners there.
Earlier this year, a papal envoy to Cuba pressed Cuban authorities to release imprisoned Cubans and pardon those convicted for participating in protests on the island in 2021. .
Saint John Paul II used his pilgrimage to Cuba to encourage the country to open up more to the world and for other nations to reciprocate.
In general, the Vatican expressed skepticism towards economic sanctions, such as those imposed by the US administration against Cuba.