Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had a private audience with Pope Francis today. The 20-minute meeting took place not in the Apostolic Palace, as such meetings normally do, but in a small backroom of the Paul VI Hall. Things always have to be different with the Dutch, I suppose.
While the timing of the meeting, relatively soon after a personal meeting of the Dutch royal family with the Holy Father in late April, had led to some speculation about a papal visit to the Netherlands, it was fairly standard. The two men discussed youth unemployment in Europe, the wars in the Middle East and the refugee crisis. The prime minister said he was impressed by Pope Francis’ simplicity, and called him “a man with authority”.
The Pope gave the prime minister a tablet with peace symbols and copies of three papal documents (one would imagine including Amoris laetitia and Laudato si’).
Mr. Rutte also met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin and the Secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Gallagher.
And the papal visit? “That’s up to the bishops,” Mr. Rutte commented.
Photo credit: ANP