This morning, the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the President of the European Commission, Her Excellency Ms. Ursula von der Leyen, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, reference was made to the good bilateral relations, recently advanced thanks to the Structured Dialogue between the Parties, and the current initiatives for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the European Union. Attention then turned to the theme of the human and social development of the continent, also with a view to the recently initiated Conference on the future of Europe.
The parties then considered some issues of common interest, such as the social consequences of the pandemic, migration and climate change, and the recent developments in the Middle East.
In an exclusive interview with Vatican News’ Mario Galgano, Ursula von der Leyen said the relations between the Holy See, the Vatican, and the European Union are excellent.
“And 50 years this shows how much we are like-minded,” she said. “The good cooperation is basically based on sharing the same values, working for peace, for solidarity, for the dignity of the human being. These are shared values and more of them (others too). And of course, we are following very closely the grand topic of the Vatican, the globalization of solidarity, very close to our hearts. And we are very grateful for the interest of the Vatican in our Conference on the Future of Europe. So these are just a few topics that show how intense, how good the relations are.”
The president expressed the importance of global cooperation to combat the pandemic and went on the express her gratitude that Pope Francis has contributed to environmental issues:
“I’m deeply grateful for Laudato si’ and the positive push it gave. So, this overall call for protecting our planet, our nature, and the climate. And the European Union was committed from the very beginning. In my mandate, the first and most important topic I placed is the European Green Deal. The European Union will be the first continent to be climate neutral in 2050. And we have now the first-ever European climate law. We not only have goals but put in law, we now, step by step show how we want to reach climate neutrality and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.”