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Pope Benedict celebrates mass with 300,000 Cubans, encourages 'truth' and 'freedom'

Juan Barreto / AFP - Getty Images

A nun celebrates before the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at Revolution Square in Havana to celebrate mass, on March 28. Pope Benedict XVI was to meet Fidel Castro as he wraps up a three-day visit in which he called for a more "open society" on the Communist-run island.

Tony Gentile / Reuters

Priests stand in front of the altar before a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Revolution square in Havana, on March 28. Pope Benedict, speaking from Cuba's biggest stage, urged Cubans on Wednesday to search for "authentic freedom" as their country changes and pressed the island's communist government to give the Catholic Church more liberties, including the right to teach religion in schools and run universities.

Ismael Francisco / Cubadebate via AP

Security walk alongside Pope Bendict XVI in his popemobile as he makes his way to Revolution Square to celebrate Mass, in Havana, on March 28.

Pope Benedict, speaking from Cuba's biggest stage, urged Cubans on Wednesday to search for "authentic freedom" as their country changes and pressed the island's communist government to give the Catholic Church more liberties, including the right to teach religion in schools and run universities.

The 84-year-old pope celebrated an open-air Mass for some 300,000 people in Havana's Revolution Square, the centerpiece of a trip that began with a blast at communism and will end with a visit with Fidel Castro.

"The truth is a desire of the human person, the search for which always supposes the exercise of authentic freedom," he said.

In an apparent dig at Marxism, the pope also said some "wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves in 'their truth,' and try to impose it on others."

Read the full story.

-- msnbc.com news services

Ismael Francisco / Cubadebate via AP

In this photo shot with a fish eye lens, faithful gather at Revolution Square waiting for Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate Mass, in Havana, on March 28.

Ettore Ferrari / EPA

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to celebrate an open-air mass at the Revolution Square Jose Marti in Havana, Cuba, on March 28. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro was to meet 28 March with Pope Benedict XVI in Havana, news reports said.

Rickey Rogers / Reuters

Faithful attend a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Revolution Square in Havana, on March 28. Pope Benedict, speaking from Cuba's biggest stage, urged Cubans on Wednesday to search for "authentic freedom" as their country changes and pressed the island's communist government to give the Catholic Church more liberties, including the right to teach religion in schools and run universities.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

People wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for his mass at Havana's Revolution Square on the last day of his three day visit on March 28 in Havana, Cuba. Fourteen years after Pope John Paul II visited Cuba, Pope Benedict is making his first trip to the communist country.

Juan Barreto / AFP - Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI waves to believers from the popemobile, upon arrival at Revolution Square in Havana to celebrate mass, on March 28. Pope Benedict XVI was to meet Fidel Castro as he wraps up a three-day visit in which he called for a more "open society" on the Communist-run island.