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Francis’ message to Merkel: “Politicians, defend the poor”


The private meeting between the two, in the Vatican, lasted 40 minutes. The German Chancellor made a donation for children and refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East. This was the third time the two met

Forty minutes. An unusually long time. This was how long the private meeting between Pope Francis and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel lasted. Mrs. Merkel was received by the Pope in the Vatican. Francis spoke in Italian and Mrs. Merkel in German with the assistance of an interpreter in a very cordial conversation held in the Apostolic Palace Library. The Holy See released a statement saying that Angela Merkel’s meeting with the Pope and the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin focused, amongst other things, on the “situation in Europe”, stressing the “commitment to find a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian conflict.” The Chancellor also talked about issues that will be at the heart of the next G7 in Bavaria. Holy See spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi informed that “during the cordial conversation, particular attention was given to certain international issues, notably, the fight against poverty and hunger; the exploitation of human beings and women’s rights; the challenge of global health and the protection of creation.”

When it came to the moment of exchanging gifts, the Chancellor presented the Pope with a white envelope containing a cash donation for children and refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq. Merkel also gave the Pope a CD box set of Bach’s works and a book.

Francis reciprocated with a medal of his pontificate which depicts St. Martin giving his cape to a poor man. “I like to give this gift to heads of State in order to remind them of their duty to protect the poor,” Francis told the Chancellor. “We try to do our best,” she responded.

The only German word the Pope pronounced before switching immediately to Italian, was “danke” (thank you). In addition to the medal, he also gave the Chancellor a copy of his Apostolic Exortation “Evangelii Gaudium”. Mrs. Merkel noticed straight away that it was a translated version in German. “That way you can read it,” Francis said. “I will,” Mrs. Merkel replied. After her conversation with the Pope, the German Chancellor met the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin for over an hour. The Secretary of State was accompanied by the Secretary for Relations with States, Mgr. Paul Richard Gallagher.  


Mrs. Merkel came to Italy especially to visit the Pope. The only other visit she will be paying is to the Community of Sant’Egidio in the Trastevere district of Rome. According to Vatican sources, it was Merkel who asked for the meeting ahead of the upcoming G7 summit, which is scheduled to take place between 7 and 8 June in Elmau, in Germany.

This morning, Angela Merkel was accompanied by an entourage of 14 people, including: the German ambassador to the Holy See, Annette Schavan; the German Secretary of State and spokesman Steffen Seibert; foreign policy advisor Christoph Heusgen; social and religious policy advisor Christian Luft; economic policy Lars-Hendrik Röller; European affairs, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut and the head of protocol, Jurgen Christian Mertens.

This was the third time Pope Francis and Angela Merkel met, after a brief greeting in St. Peter’s Basilica on 19 March 2013 on the occasion of the Pope’s inauguration mass and the audience of 18 May 2013 in the Vatican, when the two spoke for more than three quarters of a hour about issues relating to Europe and solidarity in the context of the ongoing economic crisis.

Yesterday evening Mrs. Merkel paid a surprise visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

mauro pianta /
vatican city

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