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Pope Francis – US Secretary of State Blinken meet at Vatican

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, (Catholic News Service) — Climate change, migration and geopolitical hot spots were on the agenda as Pope Francis met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken June 28.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that during the 40-minute meeting, which “took place in a cordial climate,” the pope recalled his 2015 visit to the US and expressed “his affection and concern for the people of the United States of America.”

It was the pope’s second meeting with an official of the Biden administration. In May, the pope met with John Kerry, president Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate.

While the Vatican provided scarce detail of the meetings, US Secretary of State spokesman Ned Price said that during his meeting with the pope, Blinken reiterated the “United States’ commitment to working closely with the Holy See to address global challenges and the needs of the world’s least fortunate and most vulnerable, including refugees and migrants.

“The secretary thanked Pope Francis for his long-standing leadership on the need to care for the environment and tackle the climate crisis. The secretary and Pope Francis also discussed China as well as the humanitarian crises in Lebanon, Syria, the Tigray region of Ethiopia and Venezuela,” Price said.

Pope Francis and Blinken’s discussion on the issue of human rights and religious freedom in China is a particular area of concern for the Vatican.

Despite the 2020 renewal of an agreement between China and the Vatican on the appointment of bishops, authorities in China country continue to crack down on bishops, priests and seminarians for allegedly violating the country’s new regulations on religious affairs.

Before the end of his meeting with the pope, Blinken gave Pope Francis a sculpture of a dove holding an olive branch, which he said was a symbol “of peace and freedom.”

For his part, the pope presented Blinken with a bas relief depicting a mother with a child in her arms at the entrance to the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square. Behind her are migrants in a boat on the water while two hands are joined in front of the mother and child.

Beneath the image, the words “Riempiamo le mani di altre mani” (“Let’s fill our hands with other hands”) are engraved, which the Vatican has said refer to the pope’s appeals to welcome others and show mercy. The pope also gave him hard-bound copies of his encyclicals and apostolic exhortations.

Before departing the library of the Apostolic Palace, Blinken told Pope Francis that meeting him was “a great pleasure and an honor.”

Read the full story here.



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