Mihai Ghimpu is the speaker of Parliament and the acting president of the tiny nation, nestled between Romania and Ukraine. After his visit with the Pope, he went on to meet with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.
Moldova has been without a president since September 2009, despite two general elections last year and four presidential ballots in Parliament. It is also one of the poorest countries in Europe.
Some 98% of the nation’s 4 million people are Eastern Orthodox.
A Vatican communiqué affirmed that the Holy Father’s meeting with Ghimpu included consideration “given to the situation in the country, with the hope being expressed that all difficulties may be overcome through dialogue.”
They also discussed the “positive contribution” of the Church and noted appreciation for the “serene dialogue that exists between the Church and the authorities of state.”
“Finally,” the communiqué noted, “opinions were exchanged on certain aspects of current international relations, including the cultural and religious identity of Europe.”
The 10th meeting of the presidents of the episcopal conferences of the southeastern European countries was held in Moldova last March.