(Pope Benedict XVI meets former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

Pope Benedict and Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, both octogenarians, joked about their age in a brief meeting on Wednesday and then Castro popped the question: so what do you do?

The two world figures chatted for about 30 minutes at the Vatican embassy in Havana near the end of the pope’s three-day visit to Cuba, where he called for greater freedom and a bigger role for the Catholic Church in the communist-led nation.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Benedict, 84, and Castro, 85, had an “exchange of ideas” in a “very cordial” atmosphere.

Castro led a 1959 revolution and transformed the Caribbean island into a communist state, ruling it for 49 years before stepping down due to poor health in 2008. Under his rule, Cuba for years called itself an atheist state, although relations with the Church have improved over the past two decades.