Pope Francis and the Vatican played a significant role in reopening diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. The Vatican not only hosted in-person meetings between Cuban and U.S. officials, but actively played a role in the discussions, according to senior Obama administration officials. The meeting to finalize the reopening of relations was also held at the Vatican this past fall. The Vatican sent a personal letter to President Obama regarding Cuban relations. "That gave us greater impetus and momentum," a senior administration official said. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Vatican wrote, "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 relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history."