Vatican City, 28 March 2012 (VIS) - After celebrating Mass this morning in Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion Jose Marti, Benedict XVI held a meeting in the apostolic nunciature with Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba.
"I took the decision to ask for some moments of your time, which I know is full of commitments, when I learned that you would take pleasure in this modest and simple encounter", said Fidel Castro to the Pope. During the meeting, which according to Vatican Radio lasted about half an hour, the former president spoke to the Holy Father of his pleasure at the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who had been a great benefactress of Cuba, and of John Paul II, "a man whose contact with children and ordinary citizens invariably aroused feelings of affection". For his part Benedict XVI spoke of his own pleasure at being in Cuba and at the cordiality of his welcome.
Fidel Castro asked the Pope a number of questions about changes in the liturgy and the role of the Pontiff, and Benedict XVI replied by speaking about his meeting with peoples and his service to the universal Church. The former president also turned his attention to the plight mankind is facing in the modern world, while the Pope spoke of the absence and non recognition of God, and the fundamental importance of the relationship between faith and reason. Finally, Castro asked the Pope to send him a number of books to enable him to study the issues raised in their talk, and Benedict XVI said he would give thought to which texts to send. Finally, the former president presented the Pope his wife and two of his children.