VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II received U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in audience and appealed to the American administration to promote peace in the world through international cooperation and solidarity.
Following the private meeting today, the Pope greeted Cheney’s wife and daughter and his entourage. “A cordial meeting” was how Joaquín Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican press office, described it.
John Paul II delivered a brief address to his guests, in which he encouraged Americans “to work, at home and abroad, for the growth of international cooperation and solidarity in the service of that peace which is the deepest aspiration of all men and women.”
After thanking Cheney for the greetings he expressed on behalf of President George Bush, the Pope said that the “American people have always cherished the fundamental values of freedom, justice and equality.”
“In a world marked by conflict, injustice and division, the human family needs to foster these values in its search for unity, peace and respect for the dignity of all,” John Paul II added.
Finally, the Holy Father said, “Upon you and all the American people, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of almighty God.”
Navarro-Valls said in a statement that the U.S. vice president later met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for relations with states.
“During the course of the conversations there was an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with special attention to the peace process in the Middle East and to developments in the situation in Iraq,” Navarro-Valls said.
There “was also an examination of the moral and religious problems that touch upon the life of states, especially relative to the defense and promotion of life, the family, solidarity and religious freedom,” the Vatican spokesman said in his statement.
Navarro-Valls later told Vatican Radio that on the above topics, the “Pope made reference to the responsibility of the United States. He appreciates the United States administration’s position on these topics.”
Cheney arrived in the Vatican amid tight security measures in the framework of his official visit to Rome, after participating Saturday in the World Economic Forum, in Switzerland.
During his meeting with John Paul II in the papal library, Cheney gave the Pope a dove made of glass. The Pope gave Cheney a set of 20 silver medals with reproductions of masterpieces from the Vatican, and presented to Mrs. Cheney and their daughter, Liz, silver rosaries and medals of the pontificate.
This was Vice President Cheney’s first visit with the Pope. It follows U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit last June. President Bush has been received on two occasions by the Holy Father: in July 2001, at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, and in May 2002.