Speaking on the Pontiff’s upcoming September visit to Cuba prior to his Apostolic Visit to the United States, the Cuban president said he will be present at all the Masses Pope Francis will celebrate in his island nation.
This morning--according to a Vatican communique released by Holy See Press Office Director, Fr. Federico Lombardi--Pope Francis received the Cuban President in a private audience. The Cuban president arrived at the Vatican to meet the Pope at 9:30, reported Fr. Lombardi
Castro stayed with the Jesuit Pontiff a little over an hour in the Holy Father’s study inside the Paul VI Hall. The meeting, the communique stated, last more than 50 minutes and was said to be "very friendly."
Before leaving the Vatican, Castro told journalists that he had thanked the Holy Father for the active role he played in favor of improving relations between Cuba and the United States of America, and said he presented to the Pope the sentiments of the Cuban people, "those of expectation and preparation for the Holy Father’s visit the island in September."
The President of Cuba gave the Pope a precious commemorative medal of the Cathedral of Havana, and a framed work of contemporary art, which depicts a large Ccoss composed of the relics of wrecked barges, before which is present a migrant in prayer.
The statement noted that the Cuban artist Kcho was present and explained to the Pope that he was inspired by the Pope's commitment to bringing attention to the plight of migrants and refugees, especially visible through the Pope’s visit to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.
Pope Francis gave the President a copy of his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and a large medallion which represents St. Martin in the act of covering the poor with his cloak.
Francis noted that he was particularly happy to give this last gift because it recalls not only the duty to help and protect the poor, but also to actively promote dignity.