Pope Francis went on a historic trip in March 2021: he was the first Pope to visit Iraq, where he met the religious leaders of the Muslim, Yazidi and Mandaean communities. By doing this, the Pope sent a key message on interfaith dialogue. The exchange among religions is also one of the key issues which Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will discuss during his visit to the Vatican. There Pope Francis will receive the Minister for an audience. Ahead of his departure, the Minister said:
With his trip to Iraq, Pope Francis showed recently in an impressive manner what impact the Church can still have as a diplomatic global player for reconciliation and peace. This commitment is all the more important at a time that, though challenging for us all, is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. The pandemic is opening up new divides and exacerbating social tensions. My talks will therefore also focus on how we can coordinate our humanitarian commitment with a view to de-escalating conflicts and helping to bring about solutions.
For peace, reconciliation and dialogue among the religions
The talks in the Vatican will focus on mediation in international conflicts as well as humanitarian assistance. Foreign Minister Maas will discuss this with, among others, the Vatican’s Foreign Minister, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. The Minister will also visit the Community of Sant’Egidio. For over 60 years now, the lay community has been working on social issues and peace mediation around the world. Ecumenism and the work to address the past are also on the agenda. In the Vatican archives, the Minister will find out first-hand about the latest findings in the research into and examination of the Second World War. The Vatican archive files on Pope Pius XII were opened to researchers last year.
Close ties between Italy and Germany
For the last few days, Europeans have been debating Europe’s future. The fundamental question is: what kind of Europe do we want to live in? The debate on Europe will also be a key element of the exchange with Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio. Furthermore, the two Ministers will discuss bilateral cooperation as well as international conflicts. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed:
I visited Rome about one year ago – just after the first wave of the pandemic had so cruelly raged there. Now that we are gradually seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, I believe that this latest visit sends an important signal, namely that we are going through this crisis together. And as Europe we will emerge from it not weaker, but stronger. This is also true of foreign policy, where Italy has a key role to play on important issues, such as our efforts to achieve peace in Libya, and also as far as refugee movements and migration are concerned. I am glad that we can always coordinate our responses very closely with Luigi di Maio on both these and other matters.