2015-04-23 11:01:00

Pope John XXIII and the Cuban missile crisis

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will visit Cuba ahead of his visit to the United States in September 2015. He follows in the footsteps of St.John Paul II who travelled there in 1998 and  Benedict XVI in 2012. The visit comes on the heels of the role played by Pope Francis in diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Cuba. Stretching further back in time another twentieth century pope, St John XXIII also took a special interest in this island nation.

Listen to sound clips of Pope John XXIII relevant to this to this event, to historian  Professor Norman Tanner SJ in a programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick:

It was 1962 and the Cuban missile crisis raised a spectre of a nuclear war. Pope John XXIII voiced his concern for peace through the microphones of Vatican Radio. The date was the 25th of October and speaking in French the Pope highlighted the responsibility of world leaders to avoid a war that would have unpredicatble and horrific effects.

He appealed to them to listen to the cry of anguish reaching out to them from the four corners of the earth, a cry for peace. The world leaders he was appealling to were the first Catholic President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy and communist Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

It's hard to imagine this gentle Pope known as Good Pope John as having really had such an instrumental role in helping world leaders back away gracefully from terrifying confrontation. In an effort to find out more  Veronica Scarisbrick asks historian, Jesuit Father Norman Tanner to shed light on how John XXIII was able to influence this crisis situation...


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