Pope Francis is turning into a headache for Catholic presidential hopefuls

Reopening Cuba

That same unease was shared by Rubio after Francis made headlines for brokering a deal to soften the decades old stalemate between Cuba and the United States. 

“The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relation, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their history,” the Vatican said in a statement. 

Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants who grew up in Florida, took the unusual step of calling out the head of his church. 

“My understanding is that the influence that His Holiness had was on the release of Mr. [Alan] Gross, which I’ve not criticized. As I said, I’m happy that he’s with the Cuban people [sic]. I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people—for a people to truly be free,” Rubio told reporters in December.