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Merkel meets pope, Draghi in farewell visit to Rome

The German Chancellor was honored by a Swiss Guards welcome before she met with the pope

AFP, Vatican City

AFP, Vatican City

Published: October 07, 2021 11:49 AM GMT

Updated: October 07, 2021 12:02 PM GMT

Merkel meets pope, Draghi in farewell visit to Rome

Italian priest, Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza (C) greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she arrives at the Vatican for a meeting with the Pope on October 7, 2021. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed climate change and clerical abuse with Pope Francis Thursday in a farewell trip to Rome that included talks with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi

Merkel, who is bowing out after 16 years in power, also visited St Peter's Basilica and will lunch at a restaurant in central Rome before giving a speech at a peace conference at the Colosseum.

She was honored with a ceremonial welcome by the Swiss Guards at the Vatican before meeting and exchanging gifts with the pope, whom she has met several times before.

She said afterward they discussed climate change -- an issue on which Francis has been outspoken -- and the sexual abuse by children of clergy, a problem that has rocked the Catholic Church in Germany and elsewhere.

"We had important discussions about child abuse," Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman, told reporters.

"I wanted to underline with my visit that we think that the truth must come to light, and the topic must be dealt with."

Earlier, Merkel visited the site of a new institute within the Vatican's Gregoriana university dedicated to child protection and met with Hans Zollner, the Vatican's leading expert on measures to safeguard minors.

She was later due to meet with Draghi, with whom she has worked closely for years, notably when he was head of the European Central Bank -- and where they did not always see eye-to-eye.

Merkel will stay on in a caretaker capacity as her successors haggle over forming a coalition.
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Germany is inching towards a government led by Olaf Scholz after the Greens and the liberal FDP party said Wednesday they would try for a three-way tie-up with his Social Democrats while shunning Merkel's conservatives.

The two kingmaker parties' decision sends the CDU-CSU bloc closer to the opposition, in a major shift for the country after a decade and a half of Merkel's center right-led government.

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