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Italy’s president meets with Pope; Vatican spokesman offers remarkable tribute

December 17, 2021

Less than two months before his seven-year term draws to a close, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, 80, met with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace on December 16.

The widowed Mattarella was accompanied by his daughter and other members of his family.

The Italian president, who holds a largely ceremonial but nonetheless influential position, also met with the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States.

“During the cordial discussions, which took place in the Secretariat of State, satisfaction was expressed at the good relations existing between the Holy See and Italy, focusing on some issues relation to the Italian social situation, with particular reference to the problems of the pandemic and the current vaccination campaign, the family, the demographic phenomenon and the education of the young,” according to the Vatican press office. “Attention then turned to some matters of an international nature, with special attention to the African continent, migration and the future, and the values of democracy in Europe.”

Following the meeting, Alessandro Gisotti, vice-director of the Editorial Directorate of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, offered a remarkable tribute to Mattarella and his relationship with the Pope.

“In recent years, many observers—both in Catholic and secular circles—have rightly pointed out the identity of views between the two personalities,” wrote Gisotti. “A harmony that grew as the challenges of our time became more urgent, from social justice to the migratory phenomenon, from the ecological question to the dramatic condition in which we find ourselves immersed because of Covid-19.”

“In a time marked by so many difficulties, amplified by the pandemic, Italians have therefore recognized in the Pope and in the President firm points of reference, credible and capable of inspiring hope despite the sad page of history in which we are living,” Gisotti continued. “Above all, they have found in them a sincere and profound participation in the sufferings, in the efforts, as well as in the dreams, of individuals and of the community. An empathy that was and is particularly needed in this historic moment.”

Young people, Gisotti added, have “understood with naturalness” the “values, spiritual and civil, which Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Sergio Mattarella incarnate in an exemplary manner. A sign of hope that, together with a sense of responsibility, represents a lasting legacy from which we will be able to draw for a long time to come.’


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