Pope Francis meets with President of Paraguay

Paraguyan President Santiago Peña Palacios meets with Pope Francis, and discusses peace, environmental protection, and campaigns against poverty with Holy See diplomats.

By Joseph Tulloch

Pope Francis met on Monday morning with the President of Paraguay, Santiago Peña Palacios.

The encounter lasted about 25 minutes, from 8:55 to 9:20 in the morning. It was held at the Pope’s residence in the Casa Santa Marta and not, as usual, in the Apostolic Palace, since the Pope is suffering from a mild pulmonary inflammation.

President Peña Palacios was accompanied by his wife and a delegation of thirteen others.

Pope Francis with President Peña Palacios

Pope Francis with President Peña Palacios

Talks with Vatican diplomats

After he met with the Pope, President Peña Palacios headed to the Apostolic Palace.

There he met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations.

“During the cordial discussions, which took place at the Secretariat of State,” a communiqué from the Holy See Press Office read, “appreciation was expressed for the good bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Paraguay, and the wish to strengthen them further.”

“Attention then turned to the programme of the new government of Paraguay to counter poverty. In addition, some matters of common interest were addressed, such as the protection of the environment, the situation of the countries in the region, and commitment to peace among nations.”

The exchange of gifts

As is customary, the Pope and the President exchanged a number of gifts.

President Peña Palacios presented the Pope with a nativity scene made by indigenous Paraguayan artisans, as well as a poncho made by local craftsmen, a basket of Paraguayan food products, a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, and a silver rosary.

In return, Pope Francis gave his counterpart a bronze sculpture depicting two hands clasping each other against the backdrop of St. Peter’s colonnade, with a woman holding a child and a ship containing migrants, with the inscription: “Let us fill our hands with other hands”.

Among the gifts made by the Pope were also various documents from his magisterium, including his Message for Peace for this year’s World Day.

The exchange of gifts