Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday wound up his trip to Cuba with a chat with revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, a Jesuit-educated former altar boy whose 1998 hosting of Pope John Paul II marked a turning point in the Church's relations with Cuba.
The two octogenarians spoke for about a half an hour in the Vatican embassy after the Pope celebrated an open-air mass for a crowd estimated by the Vatican at some 300,000 people in Havana's Revolution Square. The Pope used plain language to urge an end to Cuba's isolation, a reference to the 50-year U.S. economic embargo. “Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity,” he said. A Vatican spokesman said Mr. Fidel Castro told the Pope he had watched the entire trip on television. “Castro asked the Pope ‘What does a Pope do?' and the Pope told him of his ministry, his trips, and his service to the Church.”