(Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the XXI International Havana Book Fair in this picture released by Cuban website Cubadebate in Havana February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Courtesy of Cubadebate/Alex Castro)

Pope Benedict wants to see Fidel Castro on his trip to Cuba next month but the meeting will depend on the health of the communist country’s revolutionary leader, a senior Vatican official has told Reuters.  The official, speaking of the sidelines of a ceremony after the pope elevated new cardinals, said the status of the meeting was still pending.

“It will depend on his health,” the prelate said on Saturday. At present, the pope is only scheduled to meet Fidel Castro’s younger brother, President Raul Castro, 80, whose formal title is president of the Council of State and president of the Council of Ministers.

Raul Castro is due to welcome the pope at Santiago de Cuba on March 26, hold private talks with him in Havana on March 27, and see the pontiff off when he leaves Havana for Rome on March 28. There is no mention of Fidel Castro on the official program.

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