ROME (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro wants Pope Benedict to make a visit to his country, an Italian cardinal has said. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa, who visited Cuba in October and met Castro, told the Italian Catholic business magazine "Il Consulente Re" that Castro told him he was impressed by Benedict, who was elected last April.
"I recognized in him the face of an angel, the face of a very good person. I would like to invite him to Cuba," Bertone quoted Castro as telling him.
According to the monthly magazine, published on Tuesday, Castro asked Bertone to help arrange a visit. Benedict's predecessor John Paul made a historic visit to communist Cuba in 1998 and held mass in Havana's Revolution Square.
The Vatican embassy in Havana said no formal invitation had been made by Cuba requesting another papal visit.
"During that meeting with the Cardinal, there were real showings of esteem for Pope Benedict," Papal Nuncio Monsignor Luigi Bonazzi told Reuters.
In a rare meeting, Castro dined with the hierarchy of Cuba's Roman Catholic Church on Nov 16 to mark 70 years of unbroken diplomatic relations between Havana and the Vatican.
Ties remained intact even though hundreds of priests were expelled after Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and Cuba became an atheist state.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cuban government abandoned official atheism and allowed religious believers to join the ruling Communist Party a decade ago.