Modi meets Pope at the Vatican, invites him to visit India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited Pope Francis to India after a significant one-on-one meeting in the Vatican City on Saturday

Oct 30, 2021
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Modi meets Pope at the Vatican

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited Pope Francis to India after a significant one-on-one meeting in the Vatican City on Saturday. He was accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. The meeting was scheduled only for 20 minutes but went on for an hour, news agency PTI reported. "Had a very warm meeting with Pope Francis. I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him and also invited him to visit India," said a tweet from Modi's personal account.

Modi, who leads a Hindu nationalist party, and the Pope, head of the Catholic Church, discussed a wide range of issues aimed at making our planet better such as fighting climate change and removing poverty, unnamed official sources were quoted as telling Indian media after the meeting. 

"It may be recalled that the last Papal Visit happened in 1999 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and Pope John Paul II came to India. Now it is during PM Modi's Prime Ministerial term that the Pope has been invited to visit India," the sources said.

The Catholic community in India - which is about 2.3 per cent of India's 1.35 billion population - has welcomed the visit and Modi's meeting with the Pope. The reported attacks by fringe Hindu groups against Christian institutions in India are said to have figured in the discussions.  

Modi is on a two-day visit to Rome for the G20 Summit at the invitation of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

There was no set agenda for the talks with the Pope. "I believe tradition is not to have an agenda when you discuss issues with His Holiness. And I think we respect that. I'm sure the issues that will be covered would cover a range of areas of interests in terms of the general global perspectives and issues that are important to all of us," Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said yesterday.

PM Modi will then head to Glasgow in the UK for the COP26 meeting at the invitation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.