By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis received Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday morning during a private audience in the Vatican. Conte was accompanied by the Italian ambassador to the Holy See, Pietro Sebastiani.
Migration, environment, peace
The Pope and Conte met for some 45 minutes during which they discussed some pressing issues. In a post on Facebook, Conte wrote that the Pope and he committed themselves to a broad reform plan for those they are responsible for, in their respective spheres of authority.
“We discussed issues such as social inequalities, migration, the environment and peace,” Conte wrote. He said it was a very touching meeting, which renewed his political, ethical and social commitment to work with great determination to improve Italian society and to make all citizens fully participate in the country's social and economic well-being.
Exchange of gifts
At the end of their talks, the two leaders exchanged gifts. Conte gave the Pope three volumes of an ancient illustrated edition of Dante Alighieri's “Divine Comedy”, with commentary by Niccolò Tommaseo.
The Pope reciprocated with a copy of his Encyclical “Laudato Si” and a medal depicting an olive branch joining a split stone, symbolizing peace.
Prime Minister Conte also anticipated his wishes for Pope Francis on his birthday, which he celebrates on Monday, December 17, when the Argentine Pontiff turns 82.