When the Holy Father Pope Francis announced his welcome intention to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra during his visit to the United States of America this September 22nd through 27th, he said in answer to a question from Nicole Winfield:
I would like to go to California for the canonization of Junipero Serra, but I think there is a problem with time. It would require two more days.
It was since decided that because an added journey from the east coast to California would take more time than is possible, His Holiness will canonize the Franciscan missionary during his visit to the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on September 23rd.
Going back to the Pope's answer to Winfield, the Holy Father jokingly continued:
To enter the USA from the border of Mexico would be a beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and help for the immigrants. But you know that going to Mexico without going to visit the Madonna would be a drama. A war could break out! And also it would mean three more days, and this is not completely clear.
So it was decided that this would simply be a visit to the U.S.A., because a trip elsewhere would be too lengthy (even a trip to the east coast). That is, until today, when Father Federico Lombari, S.J., Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, made this brief announcement:
Now I'm confused. It would take too long to go to California for the canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra, but it will not take too long to visit Cuba? A visit to Mexico would also take too long, but not a visit to Cuba? The details of the visit to Cuba have not yet been announced, but it will surely be at least a two day event.
I am able to confirm that the Holy Father Francis, having received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba, has decided to pay a visit to the island before his arrival in the United States for the trip announced some time ago.
Please do not misunderstand me. I do not begrudge the Holy Father for not wanting to go all the way to California. Not only would such a trip take a couple of additional days from an already full calendar, it would also be exhausting. Besides, since he is not going to California for the canonization, Pope Francis will instead visit the Pontifical North American College (I don't actually see the logic behind this, but it's good for us Americans in Rome) and celebrate the Holy Mass, which I and the priests at the Casa Santa Maria will concelebrate.
Also, I am certain that a visit to Cuba will bear rich pastoral fruit, so I certainly do not begrudge or disagree with the Holy Father's decision to this country that has suffered so greatly these past many decades.