Pope Francis left Cuba Tuesday with a few words of advice and asked Cubans to pray for him as he takes off for the United States.
In a spontaneous greeting to a crowd gathered outside of the cathedral of Santiago, Francis thanked Cubans for their extraordinary welcome to the third Pope to have visited the island since 1998. “Cubans are really friendly, kind and make one feel at home,” he said. “Thank you.”
He urged Cubans to remember the past and to honor their elders, particularly grandparents.
“Looking back we see memory, memory of those who have brought us to life,” he said. “I would like to send a big greeting to grandparents, we must not neglect them. Grandparents are our living memory.”
He then counseled care of “children and young people, who are the strength of a people.”
“A people who take care of their grandparents and their young children are assured of success,” he said.
He gave his blessing from the balcony of the cathedral, but not before asking Cubans to keep him in their prayers.
“I give you my blessing but on one condition,” he said. “There is a price to pay: I ask you to pray for me. That is the condition.”