ROME — Pope Francis welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, and the two spoke about clerical sexual abuse.
Before meeting the pontiff, Merkel visited the child protection institute of the Pontifical Gregorian University.
According to Merkel, who gave a statement to journalists soon after her round of Vatican meetings, the two also spoke about “the response from humanity to climate change requires a radical change of our lifestyles.”
Speaking at the Teutonic Cemetery located within Vatican City, Merkel praised Pope Francis “very important” efforts to tackle the clerical abuse crisis.
When she began addressing journalists, the German leader noted that she’d had an “interesting and important” program during the morning, starting with a visit to the Institute of Anthropology, Interdisciplinary Studies and Human Dignity and Care (IADC), formerly known as the Center for Child Protection, at the Gregorian University.
Merkel said she wanted to underline the importance that child protection continue to be tackled because the Catholic Church has an important role to play in society: For the Church to continue to retain its voice on matters of climate change, peace building and fighting poverty, it must remain “credible,” and this includes when it comes to fighting clerical sexual abuse, and issue over which the “truth must come to light.”
“The Chancellor took 45 minutes for the visit at the IADC,” said German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, who runs the institute.
“She was very well prepared and interested to learn about our programs. She expressed appreciation for our work as an important sign for the credibility of the Church. We spoke also about open questions regarding accountability and transparency,” he told Crux.
According to the Vatican’s press office, during the discussions between the pope and the chancellor, “appreciation was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations and the fruitful collaboration.”
The statement said the two leaders spoke about regional and international matters of mutual interest, with particular reference to the consequences of the COVID-19 health emergency and the migration crisis.
Merkel also mentioned the joint discussions over climate change, and the upcoming UN climate summit in Glasgow, and expressed her joy over being invited to take part in Thursday’s afternoon prayer for peace, being held in Rome’s Colosseum.