Pope brokered Cuba deal, now set on closing Gitmo

White House: Normalization wouldn’t have happened without pontiff

NEW YORK – Having helped broker the agreement to normalize relations between the United States and communist Cuba, Pope Francis plans next to turn his attention to closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, a goal he shares with President Obama.

In a meeting last week at the Vatican with Secretary of State John Kerry, the Vatican secretary of state, Pietro Parolin, second in authority to the pope, offered to assist U.S. efforts to close the facility for terrorism suspects.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Vatican stood ready “to help find adequate humanitarian solutions through our international contacts” to help place current detainees,” Agence France-Presse reported.

The White House said Wednesday that the re-establishment of U.S. relations with Cuba after more than five decades came after Pope Francis and Obama discussed Cuba at their most recent meeting, which was followed by a Vatican-hosted meeting between U.S. and Cuban officials, the White House told reporters Wednesday.

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Vatican bank president’s links to warship manufacturing blindsides Holy See

In the Vatican there’s a German pope, a German bank president with connections to German aristocratic families as well as a German military connection. Is history repeating itself?

ATICAN CITY — The Vatican was drawn into a new controversy Friday after acknowledging that its bank’s new president is also chairman of a shipbuilder making warships — a significant conflict for an institution that has long shunned ties to military manufacturing.

The Vatican announced to great fanfare that Pope Benedict XVI had signed off on one of the last major appointments of his papacy, approving Ernst von Freyberg as president of the Vatican’s bank, officially known as the Institute for Religious Works.

The Vatican spokesman was caught off-guard, though, when a journalist noted that the German shipbuilder von Freyberg chairs, Blohm + Voss, is known for its military ship construction. Continue reading