Pope Francis Faces Busy First Day in Cuba

A woman holds up a banner of Pope Francis as she waits for his arrival outside the Apostolic Nunciature in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. Pope Francis begins a 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States on Saturday, embarking on his first trip to the onetime Cold War foes after helping to nudge forward their historic rapprochement. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Havana (AP) – Pope Francis faces a busy first full day in Cuba on Sunday.

It begins with a Mass in Revolution Plaza followed by a closed meeting with Raul Castro and a possible luncheon with Fidel Castro.

The afternoon brings a vespers service and Francis’ first encounter with Cuban young people.

On his arrival Saturday at Jose Marti Airport, Pope Francis urged the Cuban and U.S. governments to push ahead on their newly forged path toward normal relations,

Standing with Cuba’s president by his side, Francis said the developments over recent months have given him hope.

For his part, Raul Castro blasted the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba as “cruel, immoral and illegal” and called for it to end. But he also again thanked the pope for his role in fostering “the first step” in a process of normalizing relations.

Later, Francis left the Vatican’s embassy to greet about 30-40 pre-selected guests who were allowed to visit with the pontiff.

The Vatican estimates 100,000 people lined Francis’ motorcade route into town from the airport.

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