Cuban President Raul Castro has revealed that he may return to the Catholic Church. Castro noted that his decision came after being impressed with the teachings of Pope Francis. The Vatican has been a long critic of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
President Raul Castro has also acknowledge that the influential role the Pope played in restarting diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Raul Castro’s glowing admiration of the Pope came after an official visit to the Vatican on Sunday.
Raul Castro, 83, stated that he was so impressed with Pope Francis that he has promised to attend Mass when Pope Francis arrives in September.
“I promise that I will go to all of his Masses and with satisfaction. I left the meeting this morning impressed, very impressed by his knowledge, his wisdom, modesty, and by all the virtues that we know he has.”
A wide eyed Castro declared, “I read all the speeches of the pope, his commentaries, and if the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church, and I’m not joking.”
Castro’s Cuba is known for their Marxist-Leninist stance, which promotes atheism as one of its principal doctrines. Raul Castro’s remark is significant as it demonstrates a departure of the old Cuba into one that has now eased its religious persecution in the last decade.
The Catholic Church plays an integral part in the lives of many Cubans. In a 2012 poll, up to 53 percent of Cubans acknowledged that they were Roman Catholics.
“I am from the Cuban Communist Party that doesn’t allow believers, but now we are allowing it. It’s an important step.”
Just recently, the daughter of President Raul Castro led an unofficial mass wedding ceremony for gay couples during a parade in the capital Havana. Mariela Castro led the symbolic wedding ahead of the Global Day against Homophobia on May 17. Her uncle, Fidel Castro, has stated in the past that the persecution of homosexuals has while he was in power was “a great injustice.”
Cuban President Raul Castro has also invited the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill, to visit Cuba.
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