.- Late yesterday afternoon Pope Benedict XVI received the new Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, at the Apostolic Palace. The meeting came at the head of the Secretary General’s two day visit to Italy.
According to a press release from the Vatican, the Holy Father and UN leader met for 20 minutes following Ban’s visit with members of the Italian Parliament, President Giorgio Napolitano, and Foreign Minister and Deputy Premier Massimo D'Alema.
The audience is one in a series of meetings between Popes - and particularly Pope John Paul II - and the Secretary of the UN. The Holy See has long been involved with the international organization and its role in maintaining peace in the world and promoting the development of peoples.
“His Holiness and Mr. Ban Ki-moon focused on themes of common interest,” the Vatican press release said, “such as the restoration of faith in multilateralism and the strengthening of intercultural dialogue.” The two also discussed a few of today’s particularly troubling international situations.
“Also discussed were the contributions of the Catholic Church and the Holy See are able to make, due to its international presence and identity, to the actions of the United Nations in the solutions of current conflicts and the attainment of understanding between nations.”
During the meeting Ban offered an official invitation for the Holy Father to visit UN headquarters in New York.
Following his meeting with the Pope, the Vatican confirmed that Ban also met with Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Secretary for Relations With States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.
According to Italian news agency, ANSA, the secretary-general himself described the meeting with Benedict, during which he was accompanied by his wife Yoo Soon-taek, as "a great honor.”