President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has thanked Pope Francis and the Catholic Church for its commitment to peace and reconciliation, as well as the Church’s contribution in the fields of social welfare and education in Liberia.
According to a dispatch from the Vatican in Rome, Italy, the Liberian leader made the comments during a meeting with the Holy Father at his private library in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on Saturday, April 5.
Pope Francis is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, in which capacity he is Bishop of Rome and absolute Sovereign of the Vatican City State.
During the cordial discussion, both the President and the Pontiff discussed the cordial relations between Liberia and the Holy See and expressed satisfaction about the positive progress made in strengthening Liberia’s democratic institutions.
President Sirleaf, particularly highlighted Government’s efforts for peace and reconciliation; which he encouraged. She praised the Church for its immense contribution in the fields of social welfare and education.
The Liberian leader urged Pope Francis to pray for the country in order to have a sense of holiness, reconciliation, peace and that all Liberians can love one another. She also asked for the Pontiff’s prayers for courage of tolerance.
They later exchanged views on current regional and international issues, with particular reference on trouble spots around the world.
Later, President Sirleaf met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the Secretary for Relations with States, Dominique Mamberti.
During the meeting, President Sirleaf extended thanks and appreciation to the Holy See for its support to Liberia over time especially during the years of the country’s civil war. They discussed how relations can be strengthened, especially with support to social welfare, health and educational institutions.
“I think for us, this is more or less a one time opportunity. I found the Pope very affable,” President Sirleaf said following the meeting, adding that she found him to be a very humble man. President Sirleaf is the first Liberian President to visit a Pope at the Vatican.
President Sirleaf was later taken on a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica within the Vatican City, the largest church in the world and one of the holiest Catholic sites.