-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Pope Meets With President of Guatemala
Prime Minister of Italy Also Visits Pontiff
By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY, February 18, 2013 (Zenit.org) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI received in audience Otto Fernando Pérez Molina, president of the Republic of Guatemala, at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. Later on that evening, the Holy Father also met with the prime minister of Italy.
President Pérez Molina also met with the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
A communique released by the Holy See affirmed that the discussions that took place during the meeting emphasized the cordial relations that exist between the Holy See and Guatemala, particularly the contribution of the Church in the "development of the country, above all in the areas of education, the promotion of spiritual and human values." President Pérez Molina also expressed his gratitude to the Holy See for their social and charitable contributions to the Guatemalan nation, especially after the recent earthquake that struck the country last November.
"Throughout the discussions, the need to continue working together in solving social problems of poverty, drug trafficking, organized crime, and migration was agreed upon. Lastly, the discussions also turned to the importance of the defense of human life from the moment of conception," the communique stated.
Meeting with Italian Prime Minister
Pope Benedict met with Senator Mario Monti, prime minister of Italy, in a private farewell audience that, according to a communique published by the Press Office, "was both particularly cordial and intense."
"Prime Minister Monti expressed once again the gratitude and affection of the Italian people for the Holy Father's eminent religious and moral teaching, for his attention to social problems, and for sharing the hopes of Italy and Europe," the communique stated.
Monti is among the candidates in the Italian elections scheduled for next week.
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