There has been a great deal of speculation and conjecture in recent weeks by reporters and pundits about what Pope Francis would say when he was welcomed to the White House, and in his address to a joint session of Congress.
I prefer to wait to hear what “Papa Fancesca” actually had to say. A number of pundits were suggesting that Pope Francis would be political, but after listening to both speeches, anyone familiar with Catholic teachings knows that the Pope was being pastoral, teaching by homily from Catholic doctrines.
Pope Francis at the White House:
Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.
In his opening comments Pope Francis, the son of Italian immigrants in Argentina, reminds Americans that we are a nation of immigrants, the “great melting pot” of many people and many nationalities. E pluribus unum: out of many, one.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on Publish Date August 14, 2015. Pool photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais.
Secretary of State John Kerry was in Havana, Cuba this morning for the formal flag raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy. The Colors fly over Cuba again.
Secretary Kerry took with him Three Marines who took down the U.S. flag in Cuba in 1961. Today, they watched it rise again:
It was a few days into January 1961 when three Marines at the U.S. Embassy in Havana were given a sad task: Take down the American flag. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was shutting down the diplomatic compound and pulling Americans out, a response to the downward spiral in U.S. relations with the new government of Fidel Castro.
The noncommissioned officer in charge at the embassy asked for three volunteers — “the biggest, ugliest Marines you can find,” recalled retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Jim Tracy, then a sergeant. He and two others — then-Lance Cpl. Larry C. Morris and then-Cpl. F.W. Mike East — were sent out to part a crowd of about 300 Cubans and take down Old Glory, Tracy said.
“We didn’t have anybody on the sidewalks at all,” Tracy said. “They knew what we were going to do.”
Marine Corps veterans Francis ‘Mike’ East, James Tracy and Larry Morris wait to present the U.S. flag to Marines stationed in Cuba during the raising of the U.S. flag over the newly reopened embassy in Havana, Cuba on Friday, Aug. 14. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
On Friday, the Marines, now in their 70s, returned to Havana alongside Secretary of State John F. Kerry to take part in a ceremony to raise the flag again. It has been more than 54 years since U.S. relations with Cuba were severed, but the embassy has reopened following an agreement reached earlier this year between Havana and Washington.
The New York Times reports today that the U.S. Embassy in Cuba Reopens After More Than 50 Years:
After more than a half-century defined by mistrust and rancor, the United States officially reopened its six-story embassy in the Cuban capital on Monday, the culmination of many months of negotiations to overcome decades of historical enmity and to restore diplomatic relations between the two nations.
More than two years of effort went into restoring relations between Cuba and the United States, both public and private, yet most observers say they believe it will be many more years before mutual wariness fades.
Re-establishing diplomatic relations does not resolve a host of issues for further negotiations.