Lombardi released a statement minutes after U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuban countepart, Raul Castro, thanked the pope for his role in facilitating a dialogue between both governments, which broke off relations more than half a century ago.
In recent months, Pope Francis wrote to both Castro and Obama, “inviting them to find solutions to humanitarian issues, such as the situation of some prisoners, to start a new phase in the relationship between the two parties,” the Vatican said.
The statement said that by hosting delegations from Havana and Washington in October, the Vatican “wanted to offer its good offices to promote a constructive dialogue on sensitive issues that has produced solutions that satisfy both parties.”
“The Holy See will continue supporting the initiatives both countries implement to expand their bilateral relationship and to promote their citizens’ welfare,” the statement said.
After more than five decades of political animosity, the United States and Cuba said Wednesday they were taking steps toward a reconciliation.
Obama ordered the release of three Cuban spies serving long prison terms in exchange for a U.S. intelligence agent jailed in Cuba for nearly 20 years.
Cuba, for its part, also released U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who spent five years in prison on the island after being convicted of activities against the Cuban government.