Pope Benedict XVI Arrives In Cuba
Cuban President Raul Castro greeted the pope upon his arrival. He celebrated an outdoor Mass Monday night for tens of thousands of Catholics where he urged the crowd to unite during the homily and essentially challenged the Cuban government to be more open.
“I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they may be, their sufferings and their joys, their concerns and their noblest desires, those of the young and the elderly, of adolescents and children, of the sick and workers, of prisoners and their families, and of the poor and those in need,” the pontiff also said.
Many hope the three-day visit will warm the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Cuban government, which has been frosty since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
“Benedict XVI arrives in a country that is in a process of transformation. The relationship between the church and the Cuban government is qualitatively superior to that of 14 years ago,” Orlando Marquez, spokesman for the archdiocese of Havana told the Los Angeles Times.
The pope will travel to the capital, Havana, on Tuesday and will have an official meeting with President Castro. He is set to say Mass in Havana on Wednesday before leaving Cuba. There is no word whether Benedict will meet with Fidel Castro or Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who is currently in Cuba for radiation treatment.