At Vatican City this past weekend, Cuban President Raul Castro raised eyebrows as he gushed over Pope Francis.

Castro was there to thank the pontiff for helping thaw relations with the U.S., or at least with President Obama.

But what caught everyone’s attention was Castro’s statement that he is considering a return to the Catholic church.


“I am from the Cuban Communist Party, that doesn’t allow [religious] believers, but now we are allowing it, it’s an important step,” Castro said.

Of Francis, he said he was “very impressed by his wisdom, his modesty, and all his virtues that we know he has,” the Philly Tribune says.

This was all stunning because the church and the communists have long been at odds.

The Vatican has decried the stomping on religion and jailing and torture of dissidents.

The U.S. Cuban population is split on the thaw.

“That’s going to be a pretty long confessional,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said at the Council of Foreign Relations, according to The Times .

The pontiff “is a Jesuit, and I, in some way, am too,” Castro said at The Vatican. “I always studied at Jesuit schools.”

“When the pope goes to Cuba in September, I promise to go to all his Masses, and with satisfaction.”

“I read all the speeches of the pope, his commentaries, and if the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church, and I’m not joking,” he said.

Interesting times.

John A. Oswald is Metro's Editor-at-large. Follow him on Twitter - @nyc_oz.