Cuba's President Castro: 'If Pope Keeps Going Way He’s Going, I’ll Come Back to Catholic Church'

Following meeting with Pope Francis, Raul Castro shares he’ll attend papal Masses in Cuba

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“If the Pope keeps going the way he’s going, I’ll come back to the Catholic Church.” According to Vatican Radio, President of Cuba, Raul Castro, made this statement in a press conference which followed his audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican this morning.

Speaking on the Pontiff’s upcoming September visit to Cuba prior to his Apostolic Visit to the United States, the Cuban president said he will be present at all the Masses Pope Francis will celebrate in his island nation.

This morning–according to a Vatican communique released by Holy See Press Office Director, Fr. Federico Lombardi–Pope Francis received the Cuban President in a private audience. The Cuban president arrived at the Vatican to meet the Pope at 9:30, reported Fr. Lombardi

Castro stayed with the Jesuit Pontiff a little over an hour in the Holy Father’s study inside the Paul VI Hall. The meeting, the communique stated, last more than 50 minutes and was said to be “very friendly.”

Before leaving the Vatican, Castro told journalists 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 said he presented to the Pope the sentiments of the Cuban people, “those of expectation and preparation for the Holy Father’s visit the island in September.”

The President of Cuba gave the Pope a precious commemorative medal of the Cathedral of Havana, and a framed work of contemporary art, which depicts a large Cross composed of the relics of wrecked barges, before which is present a migrant in prayer.

The statement noted that the Cuban artist Kcho was present and explained to the Pope that he was inspired by the Pope’s commitment to bringing attention to the plight of migrants and refugees, especially visible through the Pope’s visit to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.

Pope Francis gave the President a copy of his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and a large medallion which represents St. Martin in the act of covering the poor with his cloak. 

Francis noted that he was particularly happy to give this last gift because it recalls not only the duty to help and protect the poor, but also to actively promote dignity.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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