On Saturday morning, 14 January, Benedict XVI received Mr Mario Monti, Senator and Prime Minister of the Italian Republic. The informal meeting that took place in the Pope’s Private Library had been carefully prepared in an atmosphere of cordiality that testifies to the excellent relations which exist between Italy and the Holy See.
Their private conversation which lasted for almost 25 minutes was inspired by Prime Minister Monti’s recent visit to Germany. They discussed the theme of social solidarity in the context of the economic crisis, above all from the European viewpoint. At the end of the Audience the Prime Minister introduced to the Pope his wife Elsa and the delegation that had accompanied him, which included H.E. Mr Giuliomaria Terzi di Sant’Agata, Ambassador of Italy to the Holy See.
Prime Minister Monti presented several books to the Holy Father, including an ancient edition of nautical maps and his own book , Il governo dell’economia e della moneta. Contributi per un’Italia europea, published by Longanesi in 1992, the same year in which the Italian translation of Joseph Ratzinger’s book Wendezeit für Europa? was published in Italian [in English: A Turning Point for Europe?: the Church in the Modern World — Assessment and Forecast ; translated by Brian McNeil. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994].
Benedict XVI offered the Prime Minister a fountain-pen in the form of one of the pillars that support the baldacchino over the Altar of the Confessio in St Peter’s Basilica, designed by Bernini, and an ancient print of St Peter’s Square showing the basilica under construction.
After the Audience Prime Minister Monti and his delegation met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, who was accompanied by Mons. Ettore Balestrero, Undersecretary of the Second Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.
Among the topics they touched on were the social situation in Italy and the respective commitment of the Government, as well as the Catholic Church’s contribution to the country’s life. They also examined aspects of the current international situation from Europe to the southern Mediterranean area. Lastly, they considered the safeguard of religious and, especially, Christian minorities in some parts of the world. Both parties confirmed their desire to continue constructive collaboration at the bilateral level and in the context of the international community.
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