Pope Francis says Rock’s interfaith harmony must be ‘treasured’
Gibraltar’s interfaith harmony must be “conserved, preserved and treasured”, Pope Francis told the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo during a private audience at the Vatican in Rome on Thursday.
The Govenor and the Chief Minister received a joint invitation from the Vatican on Monday for the visit on Thursday.
“During the discussion with His Holiness, His Excellency explained how humbled he had been in his time as Governor, by the respect and harmony in which different religious communities live in Gibraltar,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.
“His Excellency highlighted that this epitomised His Majesty The King's recent statement and wish for peoples to live within a community of communities as a reflection of successful multiculturalism.”
“The Chief Minister emphasised how proud all Gibraltarians are of the interfaith relationships Gibraltar can boast of.”
“His Holiness said that the harmony and respect enjoyed in Gibraltar must be conserved and preserved.”
“His Holiness emphasised that this was to be treasured.”
“He agreed that his words in this respect could be quoted.”
The Pope, the Governor and the Chief Minister enjoyed a half hour discussion on world affairs and matters related to Gibraltar.
The Pope was presented with a gift of a facsimile of a document from the Garrison Library and the biography of Bishop Rapallo, "First and Last" from Sir David.
In return, Sir David received a model of an olive branch from the Pope, a copy of his encyclicals and a personally signed copy of his Message for Peace.
The Pope additionally presented all those in the delegation with his personal medal.
“After the meeting with His Holiness, the Governor and the Chief Minister were received by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin,” the Government spokesperson said.
“A further, wide ranging, discussion ensued on World affairs.”
The Governor was accompanied by his ADC, Major Dominic Collado.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Principal Private Secretary, Peter Canessa.
The delegation returned to Gibraltar on Wednesday afternoon.