Raul Castro Contemplates a Return to Catholicism

10 May 2015, Rome, Italy --- President of Cuba Raul Castro thanked Pope Francis for mediation role with US, during a private audience at the Vatican.The first South American pope played a key role in secret negotiations between the United States and Cuba that led to the surprise announcement in December that they would seek to restore diplomatic ties after more than 50 years of tensions.The Holy See has said the Argentine pope personally mediated between the two sides, and the Vatican hosted delegations from the two countries in October. Pope Francis will visit Cuba next in September.Photo by Vatican Pool. --- Image by © Vatican Pool/Corbis
Raul Castro and Pope Francis met at the Vatican on  Sunday May 10th.   Photo by Vatican Pool/Corbis

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban President Raul Castro told the media in Italy this morning that he sympathizes so much with Pope Francis that he could return to embrace Catholicism, reported dpa news.

“I read all the speeches of the pope,” Castro said in a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, after a one-hour audience with the pontiff at the Vatican.

“If the Pope continues to speak in that fashion, sooner or later I will begin to pray again and return to the Catholic Church, and I’m not joking,” said the brother of Fidel Castro.

While recalling that he was educated at a Jesuit school, Castro said the Argentine Pope joked with him saying that he [Raul] attended “many more masses” than him.

Pope Francis Receives Raul Castro in Private Audience

Cuban President Raul Castro, was received Sunday in a private audience at the Vatican by Pope Francis, mediator in the historic rapprochement taking place between the United States and Cuba since last December.

Castro arrived in the Paul VI Hall around 9:30 am (7:30 GMT). After about an hour of talks, the Pope said goodbye to the Cuban leader with a long and cordial shaking of hands, the Vatican Radio reported.

Castro gave Jorge Mario Bergoglio a commemorative medal of the 200 years of the Cathedral of Havana, of which only 25 were produced, and a painting by Cuban artist Kacho present in the delegation. The painting depicts a cross formed by boats traveling with immigrants and, according to the Cuban president, is a tribute to the commitment of the pontiff with refugees and their journey in July 2013 to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

“I thank the Holy Father for his contribution to the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States,” Castro told reporters after the meeting.

Both Washington and Havana acknowledged the role of the Argentine Pope, 78, in the negotiations to resume diplomatic relations between the two historic enemies after 50 years. In addition, the pope is scheduled to visit both Cuba and the United States this coming September.

After the audience at the Vatican, Castro moved to the residence of Italian Prime Minister, Palazzo Chigi, to have a meeting that also icluded Matteo Renzi, the current president of the Council of Ministers, which was followed by the press conference.

Raul Castro made his stop in Rome on his flight back from Moscow, where he participated in the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The event was boycotted by most Western leaders to protest the conflict in the Ukraine.

The exact dates of the Pope’s visit to Cuba have not yet been confirmed, but it will be before his expected arrival in Washington on September 23, from where he will also travel to New York and Philadelphia.

The last pope to visit Cuba was Benedict XVI in 2012. Pope John Paul II did the same back in 1998, in a historical tour that improved relations between the Cuban government and the Catholic Church.

The influence of the Catholic Church in secular Cuba has been growing in recent years. It has become a regular interlocutor of the Castro government. In 2010 the Church brokered the release of some 100 political prisoners.

19 thoughts on “Raul Castro Contemplates a Return to Catholicism

  • Chile, where the USA sponsored a coup that removed a democratically-elected socialist and supported a mass murderer instead?

  • Panama was stolen from Columbia by the CIA. Costa Rica is ok, but they’re tiny and have no real geopolitical influence. Any other examples?

  • One of the greatest of Christ’s apostles was Paul, known as Saul, who at one time was dedicated to the persecution and death of Jesus’ earliest followers. The Road to Damascus, the story of Saul’s conversion and allegiance to Jesus, is one of many where even the most wicked became true to the Gospel. It would be miraculous if Raul Castro came back to the teachings of Jesus!

  • I believe that you do! It takes a great imagination and for Fidel, Raul and Mao a necessary learning path towards a matter which they could not even comprehend.

  • Why don’t you check Costa Rica or Panamá?

  • It is called a “Death Bed Conversion.” What does he have to lose, if he embraces Catholicism at the last moment? He is hedging his bets. A good move for a proven atheist.

  • Despite the drug cartel violence which is the news all the time, Mexico has a fast -growing and diverse economy. Plus, Mexican buildings don’t fall down after it rains.

  • If a mass is to be said, it should be for the people of Cuba. It would be an impertinence for Raul Castro Ruz to seek it upon their behalf.

  • In Dante’s super-natural, post-mortem travelogue, Hell was by far the most interesting place visited; I envision Fidel, Raul, Mao, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Pericles, Herodotus, Thucydides, et al assembled in symposium on the First Ring with the other great philosophers and leaders of all time, discussing the paths towards human progress.

  • MEXICO??? Are you kidding !!!

  • At 85 Raul is living on borrowed time and facing eternity.

  • Check again.
    Compare Chile with Cuba.

  • You better check again. Paraguay, Surinam, Peru, Colombia and Mexico are far better off than Cuba.

  • Last I checked Cuba is doing A LOT better than the nations that sold out to the US. Look at Haiti, for example.

  • Satan is warming up a bunk for Raul & Fidel, next cell on from Saddam & Gadaffi, across the hall from Stalin & Mao. May they all rot for eternity.

  • If King Henry IV of France (1556-1618) can say “Paris vaut une messe” (“Paris is worth a mass”), then why not Raul say the same about Cuba?!

  • It isn’t possible to be in two places at once.
    In September 2014 Raul Castro Ruz declared that Hugo Chavez and Che Guevara were “sacred”. They had earned a special place in the communist/socialist heaven. It was logical to assume at that time that Raul was preparing the way for his own and Fidel’s ascension to the same communist/socialist heaven – and that in the meantime they would have to be satisfied with being living “sacred” figures.
    Now however Raul is hesitating, should he join Che, Stalin, Mao, Saddam Hussein, Hugo, the Kims, Asads, Ghadafi et al in the communist/socialist heaven or should he accede to the Pope’s wish to save his soul and enter the same heaven as non-communist/socialists? The Pope is obviously prepared to excuse Raul for his sins including the executions of dozens of people without trial. But that I suppose is no different from Pius XII assisting the National Socialists from Germany fleeing to Argentine his own country following the Second World War.
    It could be that Raul’s grade 3 Jesuit brother Fidel has also been using his verbal skills to persuade Raul to return to the Catholic fold.
    This Pope will continue in his role to be all things to all men. He obviously is not going to pursue the path of John Paul who had the ability to recognize communism as evil and used his office to help to earn freedom for his native Poland.

  • There is nothing more compelling than the burgeoning awareness of one’s own mortality to make believers of us all. As the saying goes, there are no atheists in foxholes, and even the most self-annointed despots realize the day will come come when they will have to answer for their transgressions against God’s people. Raul likely recognizes that when he gets to the “pearly gates” he will have some ‘splainin to do. No surprise then that his audience with the Pope would elicit such a reaction. On the other hand, his older and more decrepit brother Fidel probably feels no remorse for the disaster he has wrought for the Cuban people. I’m thinking that there will be a very special Hell waiting on his impending arrival.

  • Don’t DO IT Mr Castro…NO. NO

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