Local News

Locals, Americans gather in Cuba for Pope's mass

Posted September 20, 2015 7:27 p.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2015 7:45 p.m. EDT

— Cuba is home to about 11 million people and it seems like everyone is following the Pope’s every move on the island.

In the same square used for political rallies over the last 50 years, crowds gathered yet again Sunday morning, this time for the first visit from a Latin-American Pope.

Among the thousands was Cary Strickland of Raleigh. Yet Pope Francis didn’t even have to appear before his presence was felt by all.

“It’s very clear that everybody wants a picture of when they were that close,” said Strickland. “I just can’t believe we got this close.”

Strickland was able to stand about 20 to 30 feet away from the pontiff. And just when it felt like the crowd couldn’t get any closer to Pope Francis, he got out of his vehicle and reached out to children before he and everybody else made their way to Revolutionary Square for a mass that united the people of Cuba with the rest of the world.

“I think it’s a hopeful time. A time that maybe we can share peace with the Cuban people and it’s beautiful,” said Strickland.

The Pope expressed gratitude for improved diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States- a product of his very own efforts.

“Change. This moment I believe in that,” said Cuba resident Erick Marquez.

After all, the Pope asked the people of Cuba to once again pray for him and to follow the path of peace and reconciliation.

“That makes me feel like he’s someone who is humble and he’s someone who is for God,” said one man.

The Pope also asked for prayers for people currently in prison.

It is estimated that only 10% of Cubans are practicing Catholics but at Revolutionary Square believers and non believers were there waiting to hear just what the Pope had to say.