A Vatican communiqué revealed that the discussions between the two were "cordial," and that they spoke of "the contribution of the Catholic Church to Australian society, the treatment of refugees, and other themes of mutual interest were covered."

"Also, the current international and regional situation was discussed, with particular reference to natural disasters and environmental problems as well as interreligious dialogue," the statement added.

The governor-general, who is the representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Australia, also met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the secretary for relations with states.

Before the meeting, Bryce toured the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum.