Pope Benedict wins over Mexico, heads for Cuba



SILAO, Mexico (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is flying to Cuba after ending a three-day tour of Mexico that the 84-year-old pontiff describes as “brief but intense.”

Benedict’s arrives Monday in Santiago, Cuba’s second biggest city. It is home to the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, a tiny wooden statue that is revered by both Catholic and non-Catholic Cubans.

The pope will celebrate an open-air Mass Monday evening in Santiago’s main plaza and then pray at the sanctuary of the Virgin on Tuesday before heading to Havana, where he will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro — and presumably his brother Fidel.

Benedict left Spanish-speaking Latin America’s most Roman Catholic country after celebrating Mass for hundreds of thousands Sunday and saying he had never been welcomed with such enthusiasm.