2012-03-28 Vatican RadioFormer Cuban leader Fidel Castro had a private meeting on Wednesday with Pope Benedict at the end of his pastoral visit to Cuba. The 85 year old Castro led the country’s revolution in the 1950´s and served as first secretary of Cuba´s communist party from its foundation until his retirement in 2011. Lydia O'Kane spoke to Philippa Hitchen who is in Cuba with Pope Benedict about the main themes under discussion during the meeting: Listen:
In 1998 he met with former Pope John Paul II during his historic visit to the country – a visit that paved the way for significant improvements for the Church in the formerly atheist state. Among the requests that the former Pope made to Fidel Castro was to allow the country to mark Christmas Day as a national holiday – a request that was granted that same year.
Pope Benedict’s encounter with the elderly brother of current President Raul Castro took place at the apostolic Nunciature in Cuba where the Pope has been staying during his overnight stay in Havana. The Pope leaves the Cuban capital on Wednesday afternoon and is due back in Rome on Thursday morning.