Francis will finish his day with a vespers service and a meeting with Cuban youths.
After a welcome ceremony at which a military brass band played the Cuban national anthem, Castro gave his welcome before the pope spoke. “The present worldwide system is immoral and unfair”.
Pope Francis arrived in Cuba Saturday to cheering crowds at the start of 10 days traveling across the Island nation and on to the United States.
Earlier this year, the US and Cuba re-opened embassies and the USA has eased travel restrictions, but the Vatican secretary of state told the AP the pope hopes the USA enforced embargo will also soon be removed.
In an amusing moment, the pope’s hat was blown off his head as he stepped off the plane.
Francis however is not scheduled to meet with any anti-Castro dissidents on his trip.
He waved from the latest version of the iconic popemobile, as he made his way to the home of the Vatican’s ambassador to Cuba.
It is not clear to what extent – if any – Pope Francis will address in public the issue of political freedom with either Raul or his brother, says the BBC’s Julian Miglierini in Havana.
Some were spurred on by incentives offered by the state – a day’s pay, snacks and free transportation.
Francis’ often unpretentious pronouncements on abortion, annulments, the environment, capitalism and materialism have endeared the Argentine Jesuit to Catholics and nonbelievers alike.
Young people chanted “This is the youth of Cuba” and “This is the youth of the Pope” following his remarks.
But he warned against both ideology and an every-man-for-himself mentality, at a time when Cuba faces a delicate period of economic and political transition.
He also applauded the greatly improved cooperation between the Cuban government and the Roman Catholic Church.
The visit will boast several firsts for history’s first Latin American pope: Francis will become the first pope to address the US Congress and he will also proclaim the first saint on USA soil by canonising the controversial Hispanic missionary, Junipero Serra.
He was greeted with shouts of “Francis!”
A specially selected group of Cubans met with the pope outside the papal residence Saturday night.
The pope referred to Cuba as this “beloved nation” visited by his predecessors and said Cuba, as an archipelago, is a “key” to various parts so “its natural vocation is to be a point of encounter for all people to engage in friendship”, he said.
“It is possible that this happens”, Monsignor Federico Lombardi Lombardi said.
Pope Francis will visit three Cuban cities – Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba – and El Cobre, an old copper mining town outside Santiago where he will deliver the homily during a Mass celebrated at the town shrine.
To set an example, the pontiff asked the two parishes inside the Vatican, a sovereign city-state surrounded by Rome, to take in a family.
He will spend four days in Cuba before flying to the US. “See you in Philadelphia“.
He called again for “bridges of peace” to end wars and help stem the tide of migrants.
During his speech, Francis called for more freedom for the Church on the island after the space won after the visits of John Paul II in 1998 and Benedict XVI in 2012.