Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi confirmed that Pope Francis met with Fidel Castro in Havana after celebrating Mass at Plaza de la Revolución.
The meeting lasted between 30 and 40 minutes. Castro's wife, children, and grandchildren also attended.
The two exchanged books. Pope Francis gave him a copy of "Evangelii Gaudium” and his ecology encyclical, "Laudato Si.” The book that Fidel Castro gave the Pope contained a personal message.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"The commander gave the Pope the book 'Fidel and Religion,' a conversation with Frei Betto. It came with a personal dedication...This is the dedication: 'For the Pope on the occasion of his fraternal visit to Cuba, with admiration and respect from the Cuban people.'”
Fidel has met with the past three Popes. He saw Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1996 and in Cuba two years later. Pope Benedict XVI and former leader met in Havana more than three years ago. The former Cuban president is 89-years-old and his failing health has led him to spend most of his time at home.