Pope Meets with Bolivian Leader in Private Papal Apartments

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II received in audience Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga Ramírez, who was visiting the Vatican as he neared the end of his five-year term of office.

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The Bolivian was received in the private apartments of the Apostolic Palace, as opposed to the official library, so that the Pope would not have to walk.

The Holy Father, who remained seated, spoke with his guest for about 20 minutes. At the end of the audience, the president introduced his wife, Virginia Gillum de Quiroga, and members of his entourage to the Pope.

There was an exchange of gifts: the president gave the Pope a statue of the Virgin of Copacabana, and the Pontiff gave the Bolivian the medals of his pontificate.

John Paul II visited La Paz and five other Bolivian cities in May 1988. About 89% of Bolivia´s 8.5 million inhabitants are Catholic. Quiroga Ramírez has been president since August 1997.

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