.- The Vice President of Spain, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, announced last week that President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is preparing a trip to the Vatican to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.
Asked about the possibility that the president would soon be meeting with the Holy Father, Fernandez de la Vega responded, “Yes, preparations are under way.” Subsequently, government sources confirmed to Europa Press that the meeting would take place in June.
The logistics for the meeting are being handled by Spain’s ambassador to the Holy See, Francisco Vazquez, and Cardinal Antonio Canizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Second encounter with the Pope
This would be the second time Zapatero has met with Pope Benedict XVI. The two first met during the World Meeting of Families in 2006 in Valencia, Spain. That meeting was characterized as “extraordinarily cordial,” as the two discussed issues related to peace, the family, immigration and the future of Europe.
In February of 2008 Zapatero met with the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro. At the time, the Spanish president complained that the bishops were interfering in the sovereignty of the government after several prelates spoke publicly against the Socialist administration’s agenda at a pro-family rally in December of 2007.