Vatican News

Pope receives in audience outgoing German Chancellor Merkel

Angela Merkel paid a visit to Pope Francis in the Vatican during her farewell visit to Rome. The German leader will step down after a new government is formed following the recent election.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on her farewell visit to the Italian capital Rome, was received in a private audience in the Vatican Thursday morning, the Holy See Press Office said. Later, she met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, along with Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

Focus on pandemic and migration
“During the cordial discussions, appreciation was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations and the fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany,” the Press Office said in a communique.

The two sides then reviewed “matters of mutual interest in the international and regional spheres, agreeing on the advisability of relaunching cooperation to address the multiple crises underway, with particular reference to the consequences of the health emergency and migration”.

Merkel’s Rome visit
On her way to the Vatican, Merkel first dropped in at the headquarters of Civilta’ Cattolica, a prestigious Catholic periodical that has been published continuously since 1850. Before meeting the Pope, she visited St. Peter’s Basilica.

At noon, Merkel had a meeting over lunch with her Italian counterpart, Prime Minister Mario Draghi. In the afternoon, she will join an interfaith peace meeting organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio at the Colosseum. Merkel is scheduled to address the event, at which Pope Francis will preside.

16 years of leadership
The first woman Chancellor of Germany, who is stepping down after heading the government for 16 years, has often been referred to as the de facto leader of the European Union and the most powerful woman in the world. Pope Francis and Chancellor Merkel share common commitments on various issues, including climate change and the migrants’ crisis.

The 67-year-old German Chancellor has served as senior G7 leader since 2014, and previously from 2011 to 2012. In 2014 she became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the European Union.

In her 3 terms as chancellor, Angela Merkel has seen 4 US presidents, 5 UK prime ministers, and 9 Italian and Japanese prime ministers. Under her tenure, she has also seen Germany’s economic revival from a “sick man of Europe” to an economic powerhouse, with new jobs, especially for women, and export growth. Under her leadership, after the global financial crisis, 2007-2008, Germany’s gross domestic product per capita grew twice as fast as those of the UK, Canada, Japan, and France.

In October 2018, Merkel announced that she would stand down as leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at the party convention, and would not seek a fifth term as Chancellor in the 2021 national election. The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) narrowly won the September 26 election and is currently in talks with its counterparts to form a coalition. Merkel, in power since 2005, will step down once a new government is formed.

Rise to power
Born on July 17, 1954, in Hamburg, in what was West Germany, she moved to East Germany as an infant when her father, a Lutheran clergyman, received a pastorate in Perleberg. After obtaining a doctorate in quantum chemistry in 1986 she worked as a research scientist until 1989 when she entered politics in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall. After Germany’s reunification in 1990, Merkel was elected to the Bundestag for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

After the CDU lost the 1998 federal election, Merkel was elected CDU General Secretary, before becoming the party’s first female leader and the first female leader of the opposition two years later. Following the 2005 national election, Merkel succeeded Gerhard Schröder as Chancellor of Germany, leading a grand coalition.

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