A meeting took place today in the Vatican between the Pope’s Secretary of State, Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin, and the Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry. The US Secretary of State is currently engaged in an international diplomatic tour to promote a peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians as well as the successful outcome of the “Geneva 2” Conference for peace in Syria, scheduled for the 22nd of January.
Here is a statement from Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, regarding today’s visit:
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This morning the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry met with his Vatican counterpart, Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin. This meeting was extremely important and intensive as it lasted an hour and forty minutes. Also present at this meeting were the United States Ambassador to the Holy See and three staff members of the United State’s Secretary of State. Present for the Vatican beside the Secretary of State were the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Mamberti, and two other Curia officials versed in the related discussions.
The encounter was extremely fruitful and rich in content. The main topics discussed clearly centred around Middle East issues and in particular the Syrian situation, in view of the Geneva Peace Conference scheduled to take place this January. Naturally the concerns and hopes of the Holy See were discussed, as also expressed in the speech the Pope delivered to the Diplomatic Corps yesterday. That’s to say the desire for a pacific solution to the conflict and a commitment for humanitarian aid for the populations so deeply affected by the crisis. Also discussed was the theme of negotiations between Israel and Palestine, in an effort to encourage, pursue and hopefully achieve the aspired for positive result.
The African continent was also a subject of conversation. In particular the situation in Sudan which has recently become increasingly dramatic. It is hoped that the mediation underway for a an agreement between parties may reach satisfactory results.
The theme of the United States was also touched upon and the Holy See expressed its concern, shared by the bishops of the United States, regarding rules regulating the health reform relating to guaranteeing freedom of religion and conscientious objection. Discussed too was the President of the United State’s plan to contrast poverty and improve the situation for the most needy areas of the population.
The mood of the meeting was a positive one. It was a constructive encounter, an important one, and the length of time it lasted is indicative of its underlying significance.”
During the course of the meeting, it was made known that US President Obama has expressed a desire to meet with Pope Francis. This will be taken into consideration but no time or date has been established for such a meeting.