The Slatest

Raúl Castro Says Pope Francis Could Inspire Him to Return to the Church  

Pope Francis talks with Cuban President Raul Castro during a private audience at the Vatican on May 10, 2015.  

Photo by GREGORIO BORGIA/AFP/Getty Images

Is there anything he can’t do? The pope was instrumental in restoring relations between the US and Cuba and may now even inspire a Communist to return to the Catholic Church. Cuban President Raúl Castro says he was so impressed with his chat with Pope Francis at the Vatican that he may very well decide to become a regular at Mass. “As I’ve already told my council of advisers, I read all of the pope’s speeches,” Castro said, according to CNN. “If the pope continues to speak like this, sooner or later I will start praying again and I will return to the Catholic Church—and I’m not saying this jokingly.”

Castro and his brother, Fidel Castro, were both baptized Roman Catholic but most Church activities stopped after the revolution, notes the BBC. Francis is now scheduled to go to the island in September, becoming the third pope to do so. The island began relaxing its religious restrictions in 1996 after Fidel went to the Vatican to visit Pope John Paull II, who went to Cuba two years later. Pope Benedict XVI also visited Cuba in 2012. “I am from the Cuban Communist Party, that doesn’t allow believers, but now we are allowing it,” Castro said during a Sunday news conference, according to the New York Times. “It’s an important step.”