Raúl Castro Meets With Pope, Vows To Become Catholic — What Will Marco Rubio Do Now? (VIDEO)

Raúl Castro is totally charmed by Pope Francis. The leader of the Catholic world has that effect on people, but who could have predicted that he’d have that effect on the leader of Communist Cuba?

On Sunday, Castro met with the Pope at the Vatican for an hour. They must have packed a lot into a little bit of time because afterward Castro said:

“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.”

It’s an interesting development in the evolving story of Cuba’s sudden emergence into the wider world. Cuba is a communist country that has a history of repressing religion, persecuting its adherents, and seizing church property. All of which feeds the conservative narrative in the United States, led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), about why the U.S. shouldn’t be restoring relations with the island country.

Last December, after President Obama announced a change in America’s approach to Cuba, Rubio issued a statement that said:

“The Castro regime’s latest acts of repression against political dissidents in Cuba make a mockery of President Obama’s new U.S.-Cuba policy. The fact that the regime continues to violate the human rights of Cubans like this shows that it has even less incentive to change its ways since President Obama intends to give the Castros numerous unilateral concessions in exchange for zero steps towards more political freedom.”

The senator has continued with his vehement insistence — through every media outlet available to him — that Cuba isn’t about to make any changes in return for the President’s actions. And now, along comes Castro, not only saying that he will join the Catholic Church, but also his country’s policies will change as well, to accommodate religious freedom:

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

Important, indeed. Not only for the Cuban people who will feel the most direct effect, but also for Marco Rubio’s bid for the American presidency. Rubio’s voice on Cuba is an increasingly isolated one. Generations of Cuban-Americans who came after the original flood of exiles in the 50’s and 60’s support reconciliation with their forefathers’ home country.

Of course, Castro’s motivations for becoming Catholic, if he follows through, are no doubt more complex than falling under the spell of Pope Francis. The Vatican and Cuba have long had diplomatic relations, plus the Cuban president and his brother, Fidel, were baptized in the Catholic Church and educated in Jesuit schools.

Beyond that, however, Castro’s remarks could be construed as a message to U.S. lawmakers. After praising Pope Francis for the role he played last year in reconciling Cuba and the United States, Castro said:

“Maybe the (U.S.) Senate will take us off the list of terrorist nations.”

Of course, it is President Obama who is taking action to remove Cuba from the list and Congress has promised not to interfere. But it can’t hurt to butter your bread on both sides, can it?

Did you get the message, Senator Rubio?

Watch the Pope greet Castro here:

Feature photo, screenshot from YouTube video.