Pope Francis had a private session with Fidel Castro at the Castro residence on Sunday, right after the Havana Square mass.
The Castro family has been in leadership since the country went through it revolution in 1959. Fidel Castro has managed to be out of the media’s prying eyes, but the meeting provided an opportunity to see the icon once again after many months since he was last spotted by media. Castro’s meeting with the pope lasted about 40 minutes. During that time, they were able to discuss major world issues as stated by the Vatican’s spokesperson, Federico Lombardi.
Former Pope Benedict XVI visited Castro in 2012. The official photograph capturing yesterday’s event with Pope Francis and Fidel Castro together was taken by Alex Castro. Alex is the former Cuban leader’s son. He also happens to be an official photographer. The photo captures the two icons shaking hands.
During his visit, Pope Francis handed four books to Castro, of which two have content relating to theology. Castro also returned the favor by offering the Pope a book by Brazilian priest Frei Betto’s book of interviews with Castro. The book is titled Fidel and Religion and is also signed “With admiration and respect from the Cuban people.”
A video showing the two leaders having their conversation was aired on National TV. Both seem to be in good shape and happy to have the opportunity. After his meeting with Fidel, he pope went on to meet Fidel’s brother, President Raúl Castro, 84. Raúl took over the country’s leadership after his brother stepped down in 2006 during a health crisis.
Before the Pope’s meeting with the Castro family, he urged the Cubans to help the needy and unfortunate. He told the people at the Havana Square mass that Christians are constantly called upon to set aside their personal desires and wants to focus more on those who are less fortunate in the society. His speech condemned personal greed and called wholeheartedness in service.