.- During a forty-minute meeting on Thursday morning at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI met with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to discuss issues related to human life and the family, which are currently at the center of political debate in Chile.
According to the Holy Seeâs Press Office, "The cordial discussions provided an opportunity for an exchange of information and ideas on the sociopolitical situation of the country and its role in Latin America.â "Themes of common interest were considered, such as human life and the family, education, human rights, justice and peace and other important questions on the international agenda,â the Press Office reported.
"Attention also turned to the positive contribution made by the Catholic Church to Chilean society, especially in the social and educational fields," officials said.
The audience took place at the Popeâs private library and at its conclusion members of Bacheletâs entourage exchanged greetings with the Holy Father. Officials accompanying the Chilean president included Senator Eduardo Frei, Supreme Court Justice Enrique Tapia and Representative Patricia Walker.
President Bachelet gave the Pope a sculpture representing the feast of Cuasimodo, one of the most popular religious events in Chile, as well as a book on forty Chilean churches. The Pope gave Bachelet the Pontifical medal of gold.
After meeting with the Holy Father, Bachelet met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.