Pope Francis offers U.S. help in closing Guantanamo

The Vatican on Monday offered to help the United States in its efforts to close Guantanamo prison, a goal fervently supported by Pope Francis. The offer came during talks between the pontiff’s Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, the number two in the Vatican hierarchy, and John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Holy See welcomed recent accelerated efforts by President Barack Obama to close the controversial facility where some detainees have been held for more than a decade without charge and tortured.

[The Vatican is ready to] help find adequate humanitarian solutions through our international contacts.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi

Obama came to power six years ago promising to close Guantanamo, but has been frustrated in his efforts by a combination of opposition from Congress and the difficulties involved in finding homes for prisoners who are often unwanted by their home states and/or suspected of involvement in terrorist actions. The Pope made clear his feelings on the kind of abuses associated with Guantanamo in October, when he railed against the “penal populism” that led to countries facilitating torture, using the death penalty and incarcerating people without trial. Six prisoners  left Guantanamo earlier this month for Uruguay after 13 years of detention.

These abuses will only stop if the international community firmly commits to recognising… the principle of placing human dignity above all else.

Pope Francis