This morning Pope Francis received in audience at the Vatican the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina. Zenit was part of the press pool present for the encounter.
During a moment before the private meeting when journalists were present, the Prime Minister told the Pope: ‘I am so happy … Thank you so much for having visited Bangladesh.” The Pope, in English, responded, “Thank you.” The Pope’s interpreter was present and translated between Italian and English.
After that moment, the Pope and Prime Minister spoke 20 minutes privately.
According to a statement from the Vatican press office, the discussions were cordial and the good bilateral relations were evoked. It noted that satisfaction was expressed for the Holy Father’s recent apostolic trip to Bangladesh and for the keen participation in the event on the part of the population, including many non-Catholics.
The Holy Father visited Bangladesh during his Apostolic Visit to the country and to Myanmar, Nov. 26 – Dec. 2, 2017.
“Attention,” it continued, “then turned to the contribution of the Church in the country, especially in the field of education, and on the effort of the State in promoting the peaceful coexistence of the various religious communities and in the defense of minorities and refugees, expressing appreciation for the reception of the Rohingya and hope for a just and lasting solution to their ordeal.”
The delegation of nine, plus the prime minister, were able to greet the Pope, and gifts, as is customary, were exchanged.
At one point, there was a young woman the PM referred to as being like ‘a daughter’ to her. Nadra Marak, the personal assistent to the PM, was greeted very warmly and kneeled down and went to kiss the Pope’s feet. While gesturing that doing so was unnecessary, he did later step out of his place to bring Nadra back to be next to the Prime Minister and do some photos together.
The Pope was given a painting of a ship in Bangladesh, and the Pope gave his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, encyclical Laudato Si, his message for the World Day of Peace, and the medallion of the Angel of Peace.
After her meeting with the Pope, she went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the undersecretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Antoine Camilleri.