The Pope was smiling and looked rested during his audience with the President of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom Caballeros, on Friday morning. The discussions centered on regional issues, including the sancity of life.
The Vatican said that the president's conversation with the Holy Father, and later Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and secretary for the Secretariat of State Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, was highlighted by comments on the "good relations" the Church enjoys with the State in Guatemala and the contribution of the Church to the nation's development.
They also exchanged perspectives on international issues, with the challenges posed by poverty, organized crime and emigration being of particular interest.
Additionally, the importance of promoting life from conception until death and of education were touched on during the discussions.
Following the private, 20-minute long visit with the Pope, the two leaders exchanged gifts. The Pope gave President Colom Caballeros a gold medal of his pontificate, while he received two jade figures, one an eight-inch tall Mayan pyramid of the jaguar and the other a figure from Mayan mythology created in northern Guatemala.
The president was accompanied by his Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as secretaries from his staff during his visit with the Holy Father in the Papal Library.
The meeting took place just after the third and final Lenten meditation offered by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa in the Redemptoris Mater chapel.