Pope Receives Gabonese President

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI received in audience today the president of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba.

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A Vatican communiqué released after the meeting that the leader of the west central African country confirmed that the discussions were «cordial.» The two met privately for 20 minutes without interpreters, and spoke in French.

Mention was made, noted the Vatican, of the recently-deceased President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, who was the father of the current president. Omar Bongo Ondimba had been president of Gabon from 1967 until his death in office in June.

The note continued: «Pleasure was then expressed at the good relations that exist between the Holy See and Gabon, by virtue of the Framework-Agreement stipulated in 1997 and its developments.

«Attention also dwelt on the contribution Catholics make to the development of the country, and to the integral progress of the Gabonese people, particularly in the field of education.»

The president subsequently went on to meet with the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

Gabon has a population of more than 1.5 million, of those 55%-75% are Christian, and less than 1% are Muslim.

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