In his state of the union address, televised throughout homes in America, President Barack Obama referenced Pope Francis in his speech. It happened about 40 minutes into his address, when the president talked about the country's plans to ease restrictions on Cuba.
"And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of 'small steps.' These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba.”
Pope Francis and the Vatican played a key role in the negotiations between the U.S and Cuba. Both countries have been at odds for decades now, since the island adopted a communist regime.
The Pope personally wrote a letter to Obama this fall, requesting the country 'resolve humanitarian issues of common interest.' He then wrote another letter to Cuban leader, Raul Castro, with the same request.
In fact the Vatican's Department of State, hosted a meeting between an American and Cuban delegation, before an official announcement of diplomatic improvement, was made in early December.
President Obama met Pope Francis for the first time back in April. They will probably meet again in September of this year, when the Pope visits three American cities: Philadelphia, New York and Washington D.C.