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

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie criticized Pope FrancisPope FrancisEndangered Species Act is a modern-day Noah's Ark — Trump must stop trying to sink it Pope Francis cautions against nationalism, says recent political rhetoric has echoed 'Hitler in 1934' Pope: 'Defenseless people' targeted in US mass shootings 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.