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It's a dollar to a cent that Pope Francis's visit to the U.S. in September will be one of the biggest news stories of 2015 . Take the sheer number of American Catholics, add the diplomatic skill of the Vatican's purple-and-scarlet-clad officials, then throw in Francis' powerful statements on a variety of subjects – often antagonizing America's right wing in the process – and you have all the ingredients of an epic event.My personal experience with Francis suggests that his reputation is well deserved.First, Francis is helping to end the decadeslong standoff between the U.S. and Cuba. Not only did Parolin, formerly the Vatican's man in Venezuela, play a key role in the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, but Francis plans to visit the island on his way to the U.S .. The second key issue that Francis will address relates to the Israel-Palestine conflict – a fraught subject for the U.S., Israel's most important ally.Francis will undoubtedly discuss the subject in his address to Congress, 30 percent of whose members – including House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican – are Catholic.Francis hopes to have a similar impact today, helping to catalyze action on climate change.
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