“The talks in the Secretariat of State focused on bilateral relations and issues of common interest that concern the Holy See and Spain,” the Holy See press office said.
“The opportunity for constant dialogue between the local Church and government authorities was also emphasized.”
“Finally, some international issues were discussed, such as the current health emergency, the process of European integration, and migration.”
Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, has previously clashed with the Church in Spain over religious instruction in schools and euthanasia, among other issues.
In July, he claimed that Pope Francis had intervened to help the government carry out the controversial exhumation of the body of Francisco Franco, Spain’s ruler from 1939 to 1975, from the Valley of the Fallen on Oct. 24, 2019.
This prompted the Holy See to issue a statement insisting that it had never “made any declaration on either the exhumation or the place of burial, because it is not part of its competency.”
“On the question of Francisco Franco’s exhumation, [the Holy See] has repeated on various occasions its respect for the legality and the decisions of the competent governmental and judicial authorities,” it said.
During his audience with Pope Francis, Sánchez gave the pope a facsimile of a Book of Hours by Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, a counselor to Ferdinand and Isabella, the 15th-century Catholic Monarchs of Spain.
The pope gave Sánchez a copy of his encyclicals, as well as a bronze relief. The artwork, by Daniela Fusco in collaboration with Michele Palazzetti, expresses the themes of mercy, welcome, and fraternity, according to the Vatican.
The relief depicts a mother with a child in her arms at the entrance to the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square. Behind her, there are other migrants in a boat on the water. Two hands are joined in front of the mother and child.
(Story cotinues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Beneath are written the words “Riempiamo le mani di altre mani” (“Let’s fill our hands with other hands”), which the Vatican said referred to the pope’s appeals to welcome others and show mercy.
After the audience, Sánchez expressed gratitude for his meeting with the pope.
“We agreed to address the crisis caused by COVID-19 from a multilateralist perspective and with a social outlook; protecting the most vulnerable and moving forward, all of society united, towards a more just and solidary world,” he wrote on Twitter.