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Pope's request for Cuba

· Benedict XVI meets Raúl Castro ·

The private meeting between Benedict XVI and Raúl Castro took place on Tuesday, March 27, at the Presidential Palace in Havana and lasted for about 40 minutes, while at the same time the Vatican Delegation, led by the Cardinal Secretary of State, and the Delegation of the Cuban Government, led by the Vice-President of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers, held a similar meeting. Among the topics discussed Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office, announced “the expectations of the Cuban Church and her desire to expand here further, to make a positive contribution to the country's good”. Fr Lombardi also mentioned the request that Good Friday be recognized as a holiday in the Caribbean island which the Pope made to President Raúl Castro of Cuba, recalling that in 1998, at the end of his visit, John Paul II had asked and obtained from Fidel Castro similar recognition for Christmas Day.

Afterwards Benedict XVI and the President of Cuba came out on to the patio of the Palacio de la Revolución to greet the throng of journalists, photographers and cameramen, who had flocked there to immortalize the warm handshake exchanged by the two men.

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