Pope Preaches Reconciliation, Peace in Cuba Mass Service

The visit comes during a historic time for Cuba, with the United States seeking to improve ties with the Caribbean nation.

Pope Francis presided over Sunday mass in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, where a huge crowd gathered to hear the pontiff preach.

The pope’s sermon focused on the Christian message of serving others and not oneself.

“Who is the most important?” asked Pope Francis, before saying that Jesus instructed that those who wish to first, must be last. “Jesus is simple in his answer, whoever wants to be first, must be he who serves the rest not he who is served by the rest.”

“We should be careful to not serve others while in reality serving ourselves, which generates an exclusionary dynamic … We are all invited by Jesus to take care of each other out of love.”

Pope Francis also reiterated his support for the ongoing peace process between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian government. The talks are held in Havana, with Cuba acting as one of the mediator countries alongside Norway.

“May the blood spilled by thousands of innocent people during decades of armed conflict sustain the effort for a definitive reconciliation,” said the pontiff. “We do not have the right to fail yet again.”

This most recent effort at ending the five-decade-long conflict is seen as the most promising. Pope Francis also thanked Cuban President Raul Castro for his role in supporting the Colombian peace process.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also thanked the pontiff for his words of encouragement to a political solution to the conflict.

Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, have asked the Catholic church to play a “key role” in anticipated peace talks. Catholic priests affiliated with the Liberation Theology movement have played a leading role in the National Liberation Army since its inception in the 1960’s.

The Plaza of the Revolution is a symbolically important place in the Cuban capital, where important events, such as May Day and the commemoration of the victory of the Cuban Revolution, are celebrated.

The Plaza features two massive art installations in tribute to Ernesto Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, two significant and revered figures of the Revolution. A giant poster with the image of Jesus Christ was hung nearby for the Pope’s visit.

Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope, arrived in Cuba on Saturday afternoon and is expected to later visit with Cuban President Raul Castro and his brother Fidel Castro, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution.

The pope will be visiting the Caribbean island until Tuesday, afterward he continue onto the United States. Pope Francis is scheduled to address the United Nations and the U.S. Congress.

The visit comes during a historic time for Cuba, with the United States seeking to improve ties with the Caribbean nation. Pope Francis played critical role in helping renewing ties between the two countries, facilitating high-level meetings between the two countries.

Pope Francis commented on the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries upon his arrival to Cuba Saturday.

“For several months, we are witness to an event that fills us with hope: the process of normalization of relations between two countries, after years of estrangement,” said the pope.

“I encourage political leaders to continue along this path and develop its full potential, as proof of the high service they are called to serve, in favor of peace and well-being of their peoples and of all America, and an example of reconciliation for the whole world.”

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