Christie: Pope was wrong on US-Cuba ties
© Kenny Wassus / IJReview

New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump combative, Biden earnest during distanced TV duel Chris Christie says he 'was wrong' not to wear face mask at White House Billboard warns Trump's Iowa rally will be 'superspreader event' MORE criticized Pope FrancisPope FrancisPerson living in Pope's residence tests positive for COVID-19 This time, for Democrats, Catholics matter Vatican takes step toward making teen youngest contemporary person declared a saint MORE Sunday for his efforts to patch up diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.

Francis, who was in Cuba Sunday and will arrive Tuesday in the United States for a historic visit, played a key role in convincing the governments of both countries to reestablish ties and embassies for the first time since the United States cut them off in 1961, after Cuba’s communist revolution.

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“I just think the pope was wrong,” Christie told Jake Tapper, host of “State of the Union” on CNN. “The fact is that his infallibility is on religious matters, not on political ones.”

Each country formally reopened an embassy in the other one in July, and leaders have taken various steps to ease travel and economic restrictions.

Christie, a Roman Catholic himself and candidate for 2016 GOP presidential nomination, came to a similar position on Cuba as most Republican politicians.

But he also focused on the case of Assata Shakur, born JoAnne Chesimard, who killed a New Jersey state trooper in the 1970s. She was convicted but escaped and fled to Cuba, which has harbored her as a political refugee.

“That this president could extend diplomatic relations with that country without getting her returned so she can serve the prison sentence that she was sentenced to by a jury of her peers in New Jersey, is outrageous,” Christie said.

“And so I just happen to disagree with the pope on this one.”

Upon landing Saturday in Cuba, Francis praised leaders there and in the United States for thawing relations.