Security Forces Remove Protesters At Havana Mass

One of two unidentified men is grabbed by a security officer after they threw leaflets as Pope Francis arrives for Mass at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Francis will not be meeting with dissidents during his visit, sparking critiques from the political opposition who say they feel let down by an institution they believe should help push for greater freedom in Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

One of two unidentified men is grabbed by a security officer after they threw leaflets as Pope Francis arrives for Mass at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Francis will not be meeting with dissidents during his visit, sparking critiques from the political opposition who say they feel let down by an institution they believe should help push for greater freedom in Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

HAVANA — The latest developments in Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba and the United States. All times local:

9:15 a.m.

Cuban security personnel have detained at least three people who appeared to be trying to distribute leaflets ahead of Pope Francis’s Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square.

The officials dragged them away and picked up the flyers that were left on one of the streets surrounding the plaza. It’s not clear what the protest was about. The three were in white T-shirts and were yelling before they were tackled and dragged away.

8:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is circling the crowd gathered for his first Mass in Havana, stopping his open-sided popemobile frequently to greet worshippers and kiss youngsters handed up to him.

Vatican and Cuban flags wave amid the throngs in Cuba’s Revolution Square.

Cuban President Raul Castro is among those gathered for the Mass.

8:15 a.m.

The sun has risen over Havana’s Revolution Plaza and already thousands of people have filled the square ahead of Pope Francis’ first Mass in Cuba.

Believers and non-believers alike have streamed into the square, waiting for Francis to arrive by popemobile. The square’s iconic metal portrait of Che Guevara competes with a huge poster of Christ facing the altar where Francis will celebrate Mass.

Cubans know that Francis helped spur the United States and Cuba to their historic rapprochement, and they are coming out in droves to see history’s first Latin American pope.

Jose Rafael Velazquez is a 54-year-old worker who came to the plaza with his wife three hours before Mass was due to begin. He says he’s not religious, but is coming more to witness a historic event.

He says: “We also are very hopeful for this visit, because the pope was key in the deal with the United States, and ever since the announcement, there have been changes and this visit gives me more hope that it’ll get better.”

Sep 20, 9:18 AM EDT

 
 

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