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How Pope John Paul II's trip to Cuba resulted in a gift for the Cuban people

2015-09-13

Pope John Paul II was 78-years-old when he landed in Cuba, the same age Pope Francis will be when he arrives. However, the Polish pontiff was much weaker by that point after being Pope for about 20 years. Despite his weakness, he visited four provinces and gave 12 speeches.

"I am not against applause, because when you applause the Pope can rest a little bit.”

The Pope also met with Fidel Castro. The Cuban leader received him at the airport, attended Mass in Revolution Square in Havana, and wished the Pope farewell as he departed for Rome.

JOAQUÍN NAVARRO-VALLS
John Paul II Spokesman
"I remember the afternoon in which we had already ended the journey. We were at the airport to take the plane. Castro came to say, 'I appreciate everything you said in this country, even the things that you said with which I could not agree.' It is a very delicate and polite way of saying that naturally he could not have agreed with everything the Pope would have changed.

After the trip, Fidel Castro agreed to a request from Pope John Paul II: December 25th was made a holiday on the island. The trip directly caused the change, and Cubans cheerfully welcomed it.

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