Dec 18, 2014 2:41 PM

Pope Benedict got ball rolling with Cuba on Gross

The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) Pope Francis rightly got credit for helping bring the U.S. and Cuba together and free U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross. But it was actually Francis' predecessor, Emeritus Benedict XVI, who made the first high-level Vatican manoeuver to release Gross, spurred in part by an unlikely group of papal lobbyists.

The Associated Press has learned that the American Jewish Committee was one of several Jewish groups that approached the Vatican before Benedict's March 2012 visit to Cuba to ask that the German pontiff raise the issue on humanitarian grounds with Cuban President Raul Castro.

An official familiar with the Holy See's diplomacy confirmed that Benedict did indeed discuss the Gross case with Castro during their March 27, 2012, meeting in Havana.


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