By Vatican News staff reporter
Pope Francis on Friday received in audience in the Vatican Prime Minister Robert Abela of Malta. The prime minister later held talks with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, together with Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Paul Richard Gallagher.
A communique by the Holy See Press Office said that during the “cordial talks”, the Holy See and Malta took note of the good bilateral relations and the fruitful collaboration between the Church and the State in the Mediterranean island nation.
Both sides noted the contribution of Christianity to the history, culture and life of the Maltese people, and the Church's commitment to the human and social development of the country, especially in the field of education and welfare.
The Press Office said the talks then reviewed issues of common interest, such as migration, to which the Church and the Government are strongly committed, and some ethical issues. They also spoke about the European and international situation, with particular attention to the Mediterranean region, as well as the importance of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in building peace and fraternity among peoples.
The population of the tiny island nation is estimated at 516,000 people, over 90 per cent of whom are Catholics. They are spread across the country's two dioceses - the Archdiocese of Malta and the Diocese of Gozo.