Cuban President Raúl Castro greeted Pope Francis with a ceremony Saturday after the Pope’s arrival in the county.
Francis spoke in Revolution Square and held a mass, which was attended by the country’s president and 200,000 people.
Many hoped the Pope would speak about political freedom, and he did speak about politics: Colombian politics, according to a New York Times article. But when it came to Cuban politics, Francis refrained from direct criticism of the Cuban government.
More than 60 people have been arrested during the duration of the Pope’s visit so far, but the arrests were made carefully, indicating a sign of the changing times, according to José Daniel Ferrer, the head of the nation’s largest dissident organization, the Patriotic Union of Cuba.
Francis called for Catholics to be able to practice more religious freedom.
The pope is credited as having a crucial role in United States-Cuban relations.
“His ideas are religious ones, but they are also ones that anyone in the world can identify with,” Romon Trullo, an attendee of the mass Sunday, said to the New York Times. “Why shouldn’t we accept his words of justice and equality?”
The U.S. resumed some relations with Cuba, including travel, business and the opening of embassies in the U.S. and Cuban capitals, in July.
The Pope will be in Cuba until Tuesday, after which he will visit Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia.
Collegian International Beat Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MegFischer04.