- What does a pope do? Fidel Castro asks Pope Benedict, by Philip Puella. (Reuters' "FaithWorld" 3/29/12):
Pope Benedict and Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, both octogenarians, joked about their age in a brief meeting on Wednesday and then Castro popped the question: so what do you do?
The two world figures chatted for about 30 minutes at the Vatican embassy in Havana near the end of the pope’s three-day visit to Cuba, where he called for greater freedom and a bigger role for the Catholic Church in the communist-led nation.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Benedict, 84, and Castro, 85, had an “exchange of ideas” in a “very cordial” atmosphere.
- When Fidel "interviewed" Benedict XVI (La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 3/28/12):
On the one hand was the “Maximum Leader” of the Cuban Revolution who remained in power for almost 50 years, from 1959 to 2008, before illness led him to hand over power definitively to his brother. On the other was the former Theology Professor who, in 1959, had just begun a teaching career in Bonn and who seven years later was to become the leader of the universal Church. Reaching the end of his life, the revolutionary atheist showed a keen interest in religious questions, “interrogating” Peter’s successor. He followed Benedict XVI’s apostolic visit on the television and noticed some variations in the liturgy since his younger days. So the Pope explained how mass had changed.
Fidel then showed enthusiasm at the prospect of Wojtyla and Mother Teresa’s (“benefactress of Cuba whom I worship”) beatification. Fidel asked the Pope for some books on faith and received three papal commemorative medals and the promise of future advice on reading material.
- Fidel. "Never excommunicated" Fidel Castro excommunicated? “The word excommunication does not feature in pope John XXIII’s dictionary”. The former secretary of Pope John XXIII, Mgr. Loris Capovilla said. (La Stampa's "The Vatican Insider" 3/29/12).