Pope Francis will visit Cuba before arriving in the United States in September, the Vatican said Wednesday (April 22).
The Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, confirmed the news to reporters in a statement made in Italian, Spanish and English.
“I am able to confirm that the Holy Father Francis, having received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba, has decided to pay a visit to the island before his arrival in the United States for the trip announced some time ago,” Lombardi said.
The pope is scheduled to visit Washington, New York City and Philadelphia starting around Sept. 23.
Francis would be the third pope to visit Cuba, after St. John Paul II in 1998 and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2012.
Francis has been credited with helping the United States and Cuba reach their historic rapprochement by writing to the leaders of both countries, inviting them to “resolve humanitarian questions of common interest,” according to a Vatican statement.
The Vatican said it received delegations from both countries in October and helped facilitate a dialogue.