Brazil's Lula sees Pope Francis in 'very friendly' encounter on busy day in Rome

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has given Pope Francis a warm hug as he arrived for a meeting

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 21 June 2023 19:06 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva threw his arms around Pope Francis and gave him a big hug as he arrived Wednesday for what the Vatican said was a “very friendly” reunion of two old friends.

The Argentine pope seemed in particularly good spirits as he hosted Lula for around 45 minutes, just days after getting out of the hospital following abdominal surgery. Standing up, Francis presented Lula with a brass plaque of a flower entitled “Peace is a fragile flower." Francis told the Brazilian leader: “We’re in a time of war; peace is very fragile.”

Lula then met with Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Venezuelan “substitute” in the secretariat of state. According to a Vatican communique, they discussed regional socio-political issues as well as the promotion of peace, the fight against poverty and inequality and respect for Indigenous peoples and protection of the environment.

The meeting came amid a busy day for Lula in Rome, which included meetings with the Italian president, premier and mayor of Rome, as well as the center-left opposition leader.

Lula was accompanied to the Vatican by his wife who gave the Pope a statuette of “Our Lady of Nazareth.” She invited him to visit Brazil in October for a celebration in her honor in Belém, state of Pará, in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest, reports said.

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