Pope Francis becomes the first pope to celebrate Mass in the city of Holguin, Cuba
See video here.
Pope Francis celebrates Mass with tens of thousands of Cubans in the city of Holguin, a day after meeting former president Fidel Castro.
The Pope is later expected to pay a visit to the “Loma de la Cruz” (Mound of the Cross) where he will bless the city before travelling to Cuba’s second largest city, Santiago, where he will visit the shrine of the Virgin of Charity.
Pope Francis is on a four day tour of Cuba which saw him celebrate Sunday Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square – the political heart of Cuba where the Communist government stages its biggest rallies – where he warned Cubans of the dangers of ideology.
He then had a half-hour meeting with Fidel Castro at the former Cuban leader’s Havana home.
See video here.
The Vatican described the meeting at Castro’s residence as informal and familial, with an exchange of books and discussion about big issues facing humanity, including Francis’ recent encyclical on the environment and the global economic system.
Arriving on Saturday, the Pope exhorted Cuba and the US to deepen their recent rapprochement, which he helped broker, and encouraged Cuba to grant more freedom to the Roman Catholic Church, which has re-emerged as a powerful force on the island after suffering decades of repression.
Large, flag-waving crowds greeted the pope’s motorcade, welcoming the first Latin American pope who will speak to Cubans in their common mother tongue of Spanish.
On free speech: “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others”
On gay priests: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
On the environment: “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”
On misogyny: “The fact is that the woman was taken from a rib [laughs loudly]. I’m joking. That was a joke”
On birth control: “Some think that…in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. We need responsible paternity”
On frugality: “It hurts my heart when I see a priest with the latest model car. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger”
Many Cubans appreciate the pope for his role in the secret talks that led to last December’s historic detente, when Cuban President Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama vowed to normalize relations and end more than half a century of Cold War-era animosity.
Francis will fly from Cuba to Washington on Tuesday for meetings with Obama and addresses at the US Congress and United Nations.
Cuba will welcome any papal condemnation of the U.S. embargo of it, which persists despite Obama’s policy change as only the US Congress can lift it. The Republican leadership in Congress has defied Obama’s calls to do so.
By Telegraph Video, and Reuters, video source APTN, The Telegraph
September 21, 2015