United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has described Pope Francis as “a man of peace and purpose” after meeting the new Pontiff at the Vatican.
The pair spoke in the Apostolic Palace on Tuesday morning, with Ki-Moon, later meeting with His Eminence the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, accompanied by Archbishop Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States.
Speaking to reporters after his audience with the Pope, Ki-moon said: “It was an uplifting and hopeful meeting. Pope Francis is a man of peace and purpose.He is a voice for the voiceless. I look forward to continuing our conversation and following in the tradition of his predecessors I was delighted to invite Pope Francis to visit the United Nations at his earliest convenience.”
The UN secretary general went on to praise Pope Francis’s ability to reach out to people of other faiths and non-believers, describing him as a “bridge builder”. He also highlighted the Holy Father’s compassion for the poor. “I told His Holiness that his choice of name after St Francis of Assisi was a powerful image for the many goals and purposes shared by the United Nations,” he said.
“He speaks loudly of his commitment to the poor, he has a deep sense of humility, his passion and compassion to improve the human condition. I was also very heartened by the commitment of Pope Francis to build bridges among the communities of faith.
“I strongly believe that inter-faith dialogue can point a way to a deeper appreciation of shared values which in turn can lead to tolerance inclusion and peace. This is the driving force of the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations initiative and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to speak with Pope Francis about furthering this work”.
The meeting was in accordance with the tradition of audiences granted by the Popes to successive UN secretary generals.
Issues discussed included global conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, including Syria. Reference was also made to the problem of people trafficking and that of refugees and migrants.
Ki-moon, who recently began his second term in office, also presented his five year program to Pope Francis, which focused on conflict prevention, international solidarity and equitable and sustainable economic development.