Canada's Prime Minister Praises Pope

Last of a Series of G8 Leaders Visits Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 12, 2009 ( Canada’s prime minister is praising Benedict XVI as spiritual leader who promotes human dignity, peace and religious liberty.

Stephen Harper said this in a statement Saturday after the two met Saturday in the Vatican. The meeting took place after the conclusion of the Group of Eight summit, which ended Friday in L’Aquila.

«It was an honor to meet Pope Benedict and hear his perspective on a number of important issues, including human rights and an ethical response to the global economic crisis,» the prime minister said.

«I expressed my deep appreciation for the Holy Father’s moral and humanitarian leadership as an advocate of human dignity, peace and religious liberty, and for the spiritual leadership he provides to Catholics in Canada and throughout the world,» he added.

Following his audience with Benedict XVI, Harper met with the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

A Vatican communiqué reported that the conversation «focused on several issues of international politics discussed at the G-8 and on the results of the summit, even in the light of the new encyclical, ‘Caritas in Veritate,’ and particularly the economic and financial crisis and its ethical implications, aid to developing countries, especially Africa, climatic changes, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.»

The note continued: «Attention was given also to the Middle East and to the future perspectives of peace in the region, as well as to religious freedom in several countries.

«With regard to Canada, the conversation involved ethical values, the defense and promotion of life, marriage and family.»

Harper also introduced Benedict XVI to his wife, Laureen, their two children, and a delegation of Canadian parliamentarians.

Harper was the last of a series of leaders attending the G-8 summit who also visited the Vatican, including the prime minister of Japan, Taro Aso; the prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd; the president of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-bak; and the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

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