Pope Francis (C) waves upon arriving to give the first mass of his visit to Cuba in Havana's Revolution Square, September 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pope Francis delivered mass Sunday before hundreds of thousands of fans and faithful on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, calling Cubans to serve the most downtrodden and warning them that "service is never ideological".The pope, who arrived on the communist island Saturday, is following in the footsteps of his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI -- a remarkable amount of papal attention in 17 years for a country where only 10 percent of the population describe themselves as Catholic.Just ahead of the pope's trip, the United States announced a further loosening of restrictions on business and travel with Cuba -- a move that Havana's archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, said he believed was inspired by Francis's visit.After mass, the pope will meet with Castro, then preside over vespers at Havana Cathedral before holding an unscripted exchange with young Cubans -- a demographic feeling the pain of the communist island's difficult economic transition.Francis may also meet Castro's older brother and predecessor Fidel, the 89-year-old father of Cuba's 1959 revolution.Francis, however, is not scheduled to meet with any anti-Castro dissidents on his trip.
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