Havana, Cuba, Mar 27, 2012 / 19:56 pm
During a personal meeting that lasted over 40 minutes, Pope Benedict XVI asked Cuban President Raúl Castro to recognize Good Friday as a holiday in the country over its importance in the Catholic calendar.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi reported on the conversation and noted that a similar request was made by Blessed John Paul II to Fidel Castro about Christmas when the late pontiff visited Cuba in 1998.
As a consequence of that request, the Cuban government re-established Dec. 25 as a national holiday. Christmas had previously been suspended from the calendar with the success of the local Communist revolution in the late 1950s.
"Of course, this is a matter for the Cuban authorities, and we hope for a response in the not too distant future," Fr. Lombardi told members of the press.