Benedict XVI Meets With Italian Prime Minister

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2005 ( Benedict XVI received Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in private audience for the first time.

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After the audience with the Pope on Saturday, the Italian head of government then met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state.

«In the course of the cordial conversations,» a press release of the Vatican press office reported, «there was an exchange of opinions on the bilateral problems between the state and Church in Italy, and the common will was reaffirmed of collaboration between the two parties, in keeping with the Lateran Pacts.»

The affirmation is significant as two small political entities, the Radical Party and the Italian Social Democrats Party, have requested the abolition of those pacts, signed in 1929 and updated in 1984.

Almost all political parties, both of the opposition as well as in the government, have rejected this proposal.

«The visit of the head of the Italian government made possible, afterward, the exchange of information on the present international situation,» added the text.

A communiqué issued by the executive of the Council of Ministers referred later to the «special convergence between Italy’s orientations and the moral and religious objectives of the Catholic Church in the world.»

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