India’s Modi invites pope to visit after 2017 plan collapsed
India’s prime minister has invited Pope Francis to visit the country
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said the invitation was to come visit “at an early date” and “was accepted with pleasure.”
Modi is in Rome for the Group of 20 summit, and his visit to the Vatican marked the first time in more than 20 years that an Indian leader has met a pope.
The Vatican’s official communique made no mention of the invitation or the content of Modi’s meeting with the pontiff. It said only that Modi’s visit with the Vatican’s secretary of state was brief and that “the cordial relations between the Holy See and India were discussed.”
But he said it was actually “providential” because “visiting India requires one journey: you must go to the south, to the center, to the east, to the west, to the north for the diverse cultures of India.”
He said at the time that he hoped to go in 2018 “if I’m still alive!”
Modi’s meeting Saturday with Francis — which the Vatican closed to independent media, citing coronavirus restrictions — appeared warm based on Vatican photographs Modi tweeted showing the two men embracing on several occasions.
“Thank you very much for your visit,” Francis said to Modi in English, holding his hands, according to Vatican video of the encounter. “I am happy.”
During the encounter, Modi gave Francis a silver candelabra and a book, “The Climate Climb: India’s strategy, actions and achievements.” Francis gave Modi a collection of his main teaching documents and a bronze medallion featuring a tree and the words in Italian “The desert will become a garden.”
News Credit: abcnews.go.com