Pope Francis began the second full day of his visit to Cuba by celebrating mass in the eastern city of Holguin before flying to Santiago to meet with bishops at the seminary of St. Basil the Great in El Cobre. Tomorrow, he’s scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C., at 4 p.m.
Today’s visit to Holguin, which has never been visited by a pontiff before, was a change of pace for Francis, who spent yesterday celebrating mass and meeting with the Fidel and Raul Castro in Havana.
“Despite the very hot muggy weather, Holguin’s Revolution Square was packed with thousands of people waving flags,” NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports on the city’s welcome for the pope.
Though this visit has so far looked different from those of popes past, one aspect has remained the same, Sylvia says.
“Like his predecessors … the pope has not met any dissidents. Several have been arrested. The Vatican spokesperson said yesterday that some dissidents had been invited to the papal event, but he didn’t know why the greetings didn’t take place.”
After the mass, the pope blessed the city and then departed for Santiago and his meeting with the bishops there.
Tomorrow he will celebrate mass and deliver a speech before heading for the U.S., where, Sylvia says, no one really knows what to expect from the pope.
“He’s really very unpredictable and sometimes contradictory. I think he himself might be a little nervous about arriving in the U.S. He’s never been there, his English is not very good, and he is a Latin American who shares many of his fellow countrymen’s diffidence toward the big, wealthy, energy-sucking superpower to the North.”
However, she says, you “probably won’t hear him come down judgmentally on issues of sexual morality.”
“His priorities are the poor, the forgotten, the marginalized.”
You can check out the pontiff’s full itinerary here.