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Former Cuban President Raul Castro waves as he walks with Pope Francis on September 19, 2015, in Havana, CubaPhoto by Carl Court/Getty Images

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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis expressed his fraternity with the former communist leader of Cuba Raul Castro in a Monday interview, telling journalists that he had a “human relationship” with the murderous dictator.

In comments given during an extensive interview with Spanish-speaking news outlet Univisión, the Pope praised the former communist despot, who succeeded his brother Fidel Castro as leader of Cuba in 2008, and indicated a need for “exploratory dialogues” with the current regime “to bridge the distance.”

After expressing his love for “the Cuban people,” with whom he said he has “good human relations,” Francis told the interviewers that he also has “a human relationship” with communist Raul Castro and “was happy when the small agreement with the United States that President Obama wanted in his moment occurred” while Castro governed.

The “small agreement” refers to the Obama-era policy which increased trade between Cuba and the U.S. by allowing “American celebrities to splurge in Cuba despite the alleged existence of a trade embargo and granting American cruise lines legal access to Cuban ports stolen from their rightful owners by Fidel Castro after 1959,” according to a Breitbart report.

Reportedly, Pope Francis played a key role in securing the deal between the two nations. “Raul Castro accepted it and it was a good step forward but it stalled now,” the Pope said Monday.

In 2015, shortly after the Obama–Castro agreement had been made, Francis visited Cuba, spending a large part of his time on the island with the Castro family while Raul Castro presided over the country.

Castro, a staunch atheist, was immensely pleased with the support shown by Francis. “If you continue talking like this … I will return to the Catholic Church. I am not joking. I may convert again to Catholicism, even though I am a communist,” he stated.

The Holy Father said Monday that the island nation of Cuba is “a symbol” and declared that the country “has a great history.” He added that he feels “very close, even to the Cuban bishops.”

Cuba, however, has been plagued by the 63-year-old communist regime which remains in the stranglehold of the Castro empire.

Last year, rare anti-communist protests broke out – which are still illegal in the country – demanding an end to the oppressive communist rule. Some 187,000 protestors took to the streets, prompting Castro to call for a violent response from his supporters.

Breitbart reported that at least three teenagers were later sentenced to decades in prison for participating in the protests.

Pope Francis has also come under scrutiny for his apparent encouragement of the anti-Catholic communist regime in China, with which a special deal has been struck for the appointment of bishops.

In 2020, the Pope echoed the sentiments of the Chinese Communist Party when he told Chinese Catholics that “to be truly Christian” they must “be good citizens.” In the context of communist China, a good citizen is one who submits to the ideology of Xi Jinping’s brutal and atheistic regime, leaving ample room for the puppet church to claim papal endorsement.

The Pope has also admitted that a communist woman with whom he once worked, Esther Ballestrino De Careaga, exerted a strong influence over his social and political formation, stating that she “taught me to think about political reality … I owe so much to this woman.”

Univisión journalists asked the Pontiff to comment on critics who say that he is himself a communist, or at least heavily sympathetic to communist regimes. In reply, Francis dismissed the critiques as coming from “certain highly ideological media groups dedicated to ideologizing the position of others.”

“Sometimes they don’t know how to distinguish what communism is from what Nazism is, or what populism is, from what popularism is,” he continued. “When they accuse me of communism I say: ‘How outdated this is.’ Those accusations are over, I see them as outdated. It is made by small ideologized groups.”