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New Italian prime minister visits Pontiff

Catholic World News - January 16, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI met on January 14 with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who was introduced at the Vatican for the first time since he took office in November 2011.

A brief Vatican statement released after the meeting indicated that the talks had covered "the social situation in Italy and to the government's efforts in that field," the Church-state relations, European affairs, and the protection of religious minorities--especially Christian minorities. The last topic on that list reflected the statement made just a few days earlier by Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata, who said that the drive to protect Christians from persecution would be a high priority for the new government.

The foreign minister accompanied the prime minister to his meeting with the Pontiff, as did two other members of Monti's cabinet. After speaking with the Pope they also met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Ettore Balestero, the undersecretary for Relations with States.

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