HAVANA TIMES — Pope Francis (Jorge Bergoglio), the pontiff that has Raul Castro considering a return to Catholicism, received the OK to hold a mass in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución during his trip to the island this September, reported dpa news.
The Mass will take place before his meeting with President Raul Castro, notes the official program of the visit of the pope to Cuba released Tuesday by the Vatican.
The pope will be in Cuba from Sept. 19-22 and then move on to the United States. He will become the third pope to visit Cuba.
During his stay, Bergolglio will visit the cities of Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba and the shrine of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, considered the Catholic patron saint of the island, and located near the eastern Cuban city of Santiago.
The pope’s outdoor mass in the Plaza of the Revolution is scheduled to take place on Sunday Sept. 20. His predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI also gave mass at the Plaza during their trips to Cuba in 1998 and 2012.
On the same day as the open air mass, Francisco has scheduled an afternoon meeting with President Raul Castro at the Palace of the Revolution, before meeting with representatives of the Catholic Church in Cuba.
The official program does not include a meeting with former President Fidel Castro, who often receives foreign dignitaries privately in meetings organized on short notice.
Francis will then travel to Holguin, to the northeast of the island, where on Sept. 21 he will officiate a mass in the Plaza of the Revolution in that city, among other activities.
On Tuesday Sept. 22, his final day in Cuba, Bergoglio will hold a final mass at the Shrine of El Cobre before leaving for the United States.
The Vatican served as liaison for secret negotiations that led to the announcement last December that Washington and Havana would resume diplomatic relations broken off unilaterally by the US in 1961.