Pope Francis Urges Cubans to Look Out for Each Other

Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on Sept. 20, 2015.
Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana’s iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff’s eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUARODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images

The latest developments in Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba and the United States. All times local:

9:45 a.m.

Pope Francis is urging Cubans to look out for one another and not just judge others based on what they are or are not doing.

Francis directed the message to thousands of Cubans gathered Sunday for his first Mass in Havana’s Revolution Plaza. He told them that those who want to be great must serve others, and not be served by them. He said Cubans should avoid “judgmental looks.”

He said “All of us are asked, indeed urged, by Jesus to care for one another out of love … Without looking to one side or the other to see what our neighbor is doing or not doing.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what Francis was referring to. But many Cubans complain about the rigidity of a system in which virtually every aspect of life is controlled by the government, from cultural institutions to block-level neighborhood watch committees, in which people are excluded or lose benefits if they are perceived as being disloyal or unfaithful to the principles of the revolution.

That has eased in recent years, but it remains a problem in the eyes of many islanders and outside observers.

Many Cubans are also increasingly concerned about growing inequality, as those with access to foreign capital live better than others who struggle to feed themselves, generating jealousy and division within families and society at large.

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9:15 a.m.

Cuban security personnel have detained at least three people who appeared to be trying to distribute leaflets ahead of Pope Francis’s Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square.

The officials dragged them away and picked up the flyers that were left on one of the streets surrounding the plaza. It’s not clear what the protest was about. The three were in white T-shirts and were yelling before they were tackled and dragged away.

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8:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is circling the crowd gathered for his first Mass in Havana, stopping his open-sided popemobile frequently to greet worshippers and kiss youngsters handed up to him.

Vatican and Cuban flags wave amid the throngs in Cuba’s Revolution Square.

Cuban President Raul Castro is among those gathered for the Mass.

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8:15 a.m.

The sun has risen over Havana’s Revolution Plaza and already thousands of people have filled the square ahead of Pope Francis’ first Mass in Cuba.

Believers and non-believers alike have streamed into the square, waiting for Francis to arrive by popemobile. The square’s iconic metal portrait of Che Guevara competes with a huge poster of Christ facing the altar where Francis will celebrate Mass.

Cubans know that Francis helped spur the United States and Cuba to their historic rapprochement, and they are coming out in droves to see history’s first Latin American pope.

Jose Rafael Velazquez is a 54-year-old worker who came to the plaza with his wife three hours before Mass was due to begin. He says he’s not religious, but is coming more to witness a historic event.

He says: “We also are very hopeful for this visit, because the pope was key in the deal with the United States, and ever since the announcement, there have been changes and this visit gives me more hope that it’ll get better.”

SOURCE: AP