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Vatican eyes end of embargo after US-Cuba thaw

Published:Friday | September 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Pope Francis arrives for a meeting wit a group of young people who is participating in the International Congress for Young People in Consecrated Life, taking place in Rome this week, at the Vatican, yesterday.


The Vatican is hoping the recent restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States (US) and Cuba will soon translate in to an end of the US economic embargo on the island.

On the eve of Pope Francis' trip to the one-time Cold War foes, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, recalled yesterday that the Vatican has long called for an end to sanctions, saying they hurt ordinary Cubans most. In an interview with Vatican TV, Parolin said there is optimism now as a result of the rapprochement.

"As the bishops have said, there is hope that measures of this type, a liberalisation of links and above all at an economic level, can bring about also a major opening from the point of view of freedom and human rights that are fundamental for the life of the people," Parolin said.

Parolin also acknowledged criticism in the US to Francis' economic and environmental message. He said he believed Francis would invite all Americans to reflect on necessary changes to humanity's relationship with creation.

"I think it's right to realise that things aren't going in the right direction and that a path to solutions must be found. I think the pope will invite this: One can offer a contribution, but change is necessary."

10-day trip

Francis leaves Saturday for a 10-day trip, spending the first four days in Cuba and the final leg in the US cities of Washington, New York, and Philadelphia.

Parolin concurred that Francis will be visiting the US as an immigrant, temporarily from Cuba, and that migration will be "surely among the most important themes" of the visit.

Francis has denounced the "globalisation of indifference" the world is showing migrants and has urged all Catholic parishes and religious orders to take in a refugee family. The Vatican itself is hosting two.