Pope receives outgoing President Mattarella of Italy
By Linda Bordoni
The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, was received by Pope Francis in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, as his mandate draws to a close.
According to the Italian Constitution, the President is the Head of State and represents national unity. It is his responsibility to make sure that Italian politics comply with the Constitution. His role is incompatible with any other office, and his term lasts seven years.
After being elected by the Italian Parliament, the former constitutional court judge, Mattarella, took office at the beginning of 2015.
A Holy See Press Office communiquè said that after the audience with Pope Francis, President Mattarella met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
"During the cordial discussions, which took place in the Secretariat of State,” the communiqué reads, “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."
"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," it said.
This is not the two leaders’ first meeting. The Italian President was first received in the Vatican on 18 April 2015. They met several times subsequently, including a visit paid by the Pope to the Presidential Quirinal Palace in Rome in May 2017.
The exchange of gifts
As is customary, an exchange of gifts took place during the papal audience.
Mattarella gave the Pope a print of the view of Rome from the Quirinal Palace, and a book about the Italian Baroque artist, Guido Reni.
Pope Francis gave the President a painting on ceramic of St. Peter’s Basilica seen from the Vatican gardens, the first copy of his 2022 Message for the World Day of Peace, and the book dedicated to the Pope's Extraordinary Moment of Prayer on 27 March 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.