September 25, 2015 by Sam Smith
Pope Francis is the third Pope to visit Cuba. During his visit, he met with Cuban leader, Raul and had a private meeting with former leader, Fidel Castro and addressed a large crowd in the Plaza de la Revolución. Prior to the Pope’s visit, 3,522 political prisoners were released as a good will gesture. Despite this, plain clothed police kept dissidents from getting close enough to talk to him.
In his speech, he called for more religious freedom for the Cuban people and praised the recent normalization of relations with the United States.
The Pope was met by President Obama and received a red carpet welcome at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington and was transported in a motorcade to the White House to meet with the president.
The Pope then led prayer at St. Matthews Cathedral before heading to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a canonization Mass, the first ever held in the United States. The Mass was for Junipero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan Missionary who established schools in California for American Indians.
On Thurday, September 24, he made history by being the first pope to address a joint session of congress. In his speech, he spoke about protecting the environment, global warming, caring for the poor and peace. Speaker of the House, John Boehner could not contain his emotions as he listened to the Pope’s speech.
As the pope left the capitol, he addressed the large crowd gathered on the west front (facing the National Mall) who watched his speech to congress on large television monitors set up on the capitol steps.
His last stop in Washington, DC was St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Catholic Charities.
After the full day of activity in Washington, the Pope departed for New York City, where he led a prayer service at St. Patricks Cathedral before retiring for the day.
On Friday, September 25, 2015, the pope met with the General Assembly of the United Nations on the U.N.’s 70th anniversary, then held a service for all faiths at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Following a visit to “Our Lady Queen of Angels School” in east Harlem, the Pope led a crowd of 80,000 through Central Park before ending the day by holding a Mass in Madison Square Garden.
The pope will wind up his 6 day U.S. visit by spending two days in Philadelphia.