(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 08.17.2023).- On the morning of Thursday, August 17, Pope Francis received in private audience Mr. Andry Nirina Rajoelina, President of the Republic of Madagascar, who subsequently met with Msgr. Miroslaw Wachowski, Under-Secretary for Relations with States. Although it is ordinarily the role of the Secretary of State (in this case Cardinal Pietro Parolin) to receive heads of state and/or government after the audience with the Pope, this was not possible because Cardinal Parolin is on an official visit to South Sudan.
However, during cordial talks at the Secretariat of State, appreciation was expressed for the positive bilateral relations, as well as for the contribution of the Catholic Church in many sectors of Malagasy society.
Throughout the conversation, various national and international issues were discussed, including the war in Ukraine and its global consequences, the crisis situations affecting the African continent and the possibility of proceeding with the study of the drafting of a bilateral agreement, as a further sign of respectful cooperation.
The President of Madagascar arrived with the Pope at 11 a.m. and the audience lasted 20 minutes. At the end of the private audience with the President, Pope Francis invited the delegation to have a photo taken next to the miniature of the boat given to him during his trip to Madagascar. They then prayed a Hail Mary before the image of Mary given to him by the Malagasy bishops. The Holy Father then gave his blessing to those present.
The Pope gave the guest the main documents of his Pontificate, a copy of the Statio Orbis of March 21, 2020 and a bronze sculpture. For his part, the President gave the Pope a painting depicting a scene of Malagasy peasant life and the game “Solitaire”, with marbles made of local stones.