Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Pope Francis To Visit Cuba In September

Pope Francis

(Photo : Reuters) Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 22, 2015.

Pope Francis plans to visit Cuba in September ahead of his trip to the United States.

Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed the trip on Wednesday.  He did not disclose the specific date or the length of the visit. 

A statement from the Vatican said the Pope will visit the Cuba in response to the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of the island. 

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The Pope held a significant role in helping the U.S. and Cuba reach a historic rapprochement. Francis sent letters to both U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro to work on issues that had long separated them.

The Vatican had also been one of the third-party sites where high-level talks were held.

Once the trip takes place, Francis will be the third Pope to visit Cuba, following John Paul II's trip in 1998 and Benedict XVI's visit there in 2012.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez had expressed excitement over the Pope's visit. 

"The presence of His Holiness in Cuba will be memorable," Rodriguez said. "He will receive the warmest hospitality of the Cuban people."

Even before becoming Pope, Francis had visited Cuba as member of Benedict XVI's delegation. He also wrote a book on Cuba in 1998 entitled "Dialogues between John Paul II and Fidel Castro".

The book provides his insights on the Cuban society, Marxism, and the U.S. trade embargo. In the book, the Pope criticized socialism, and condemned the U.S. trade embargo that economically isolated the communist island. 

After his trip to Cuba, Francis will proceed with his scheduled trip to the U.S. where he is set to visit three cities. The Pope will meet with Obama in Washington on September 23 and speak before Congress.

Pope Francis is also set to visit New York to speak before the United Nations. He will then travel to Philadelphia where the World Meeting of Families will be held.

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