Bolivia’s ambassador to the Holy See says last week’s meeting between Evo Morales and Pope Francis should pave the way to improved relations between Bolivia and the Vatican.
Carlos de la Riva told ZENIT that Morales described the Friday meeting as “very positive.”
He said that upon entering the Holy Father’s office, Morales said to him, “For me you are brother Francis,” to which the Pope answered: “As it should be, as it should be.”
The diplomat added that after the 47-minute meeting, when the Bolivian president met with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the Secretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Dominique Mamberti, “Morales described the interview as ‘very good’ and said that he was leaving ‘very happy after listening to Francis.’”
De la Riva said the president mentioned two topics he discussed with Francis: “They spoke for a short while about Syria and the President welcomed this day of prayer and fasting”; he “will fast in Bolivia. And then he told me that they spoke about the subject of the Government’s relation with the Church in Bolivia, and they agreed to ‘assume the culture of coming together’ preached by the Pope.”
“I understood that they have come to an agreement on this on both sides, that is, of a frank and trusting rapprochement,” he said.
“Morales was also very happy with the meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano” and his trip to Rome, although, as he said publicly, the time change had affected him very much, the ambassador added.
Morales gave the Holy Father a book titled “Memoria gráfica de reintegración marítima boliviana” [Graphic Memorial of Bolivian Maritime Reintegration], which points out his government’s desire to obtain an outlet to the Pacific Ocean, lost after the War of the Pacific.
For his part, the Pope gave Morales a Medal of his Pontificate and two books, one of them being the Aparecida Document, the text that summarizes the conclusions of the 2007 summit of the Latin American Bishops.