The Holy Father, Pope Francis has met Zambia’s Republican President, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu Friday morning in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
The Zambian President, Mr. Lungu arrived shortly after 10.30 hours. He was accompanied to the Vatican by his wife, Esther. Also, with the President was Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Harry Kalaba, Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Muyeba Chikonde who is also accredited to the Holy See. Others were Zambian government officials and state house aides.
Upon arrival in the Vatican, Mr. Lungu was welcomed by Archbishop Georg Gänswein who is the Prefect of the Papal Household and the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Archbishop Gänswein then led President Lungu to Pope Francis’ private library.
In the library, Pope Francis held a closed-door meeting with Mr. Lungu that lasted almost 25 minutes. Later the Vatican Press Office released a statement saying that the discussions were cordial and about the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Zambia. Also discussed were the contribution of the Catholic Church in Zambia through involvement in the educational, social and healthcare institutions, as well as the Church’s collaboration in combating poverty and social inequality and the promotion of peaceful social and religious co-existence through a culture of dialogue and encounter.
The statement further said attention then turned to themes of common interest, including migration, climate change and the protection of the environment. Finally, Pope Francis and Mr. Lungu discussed the international situation, with the focus on conflicts that affect various areas of Africa as well as Zambia’s commitment to peace.
At the end of the visit, the Pope Francis and President Lungu exchanged gifts. The Holy Father also personally gave rosaries to Mr. Lungu’s entourage. The Zambian President gave to Pope Francis a big Copper plaque depicting the big five animals found in Zambia.
Later, President Lungu met the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
President Lungu was in the afternoon expected to hold talks with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The two international organisations have their head offices in Rome.
In the evening of the same day, Mr. Lungu was expected to meet Zambians living in Italy at the residence of Zambia’s ambassador to Italy, Ms. Gertrude Mwape.
The following day, 6 February President Lungu and his entourage were scheduled to tour Saint Peter’s Basilica before leaving Italy in the afternoon for another official visit to France.
(Fr. Paul Samasumo, Vatican Radio)