In my earlier comments on Obama’s Cuba gambit, I failed to pay special attention to the role of Pope Francis in brokering an agreement to free Alan Gross but also in providing religio-political cover to Obama. It obviously produced some heartburn for Marco Rubio, whose angry remarks on the development sought unsuccessfully to insulate the Pope from the change in U.S.-Cuba relations. But it’s hard to rationalize this away (per TPM’s Sahil Kapur]:

In a statement circulated by the White House, the Vatican said, “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.

Rubio is still officially a Roman Catholic (though he also attends conservative evangelical services), so he has to be careful on this subject, as does co-religionist Jeb Bush. But you have to wonder if the Rev. Rafael Cruz of the Purifying Fire Ministries is going to get his Protestantism on and start shrieking about the Whore of Babylon before his son can shut him up. Any way you slice it, though, this Pope is a real burr in the saddle of those who proclaim the Gospel of the Day Before Yesterday.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.