The Pope Has Made It to Cuba

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Pope Francis has officially made it to North America. On Saturday afternoon, he touched down in Havana and spoke at a tarmac welcome ceremony, complete with many men in suits, a military band, and a small-ish but well-coordinated group of chanting Cubans. His comments were befitting of a welcome ceremony: optimistic, gracious, fairly non-exciting. He did do a bit of diplomatic cheerleading, though:

For some months now, we have witnessed an event which fills us with hope: the process of normalizing relations between two peoples following years of estrangement. It is a sign of the victory of the culture of encounter and dialogue, “the system of universal growth” over “the forever-dead system of groups and dynasties.” I urge political leaders to persevere on this path and to develop all its potentialities as a proof of the high service which they are called to carry out on behalf of the peace and well-being of their peoples, of all America, and as an example of reconciliation for the entire world.

That’s according to the English translation provided by the Vatican.

During the ceremony, he hung out with a very cheerful looking Raul Castro, and as he made his way into the airport terminal, Francis had the chance to peer upon Francis: