It was a meeting of minds at the Vatican that ended with plans of a future visit to Mexico by the Pontiff after he held an audience with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Peña Nieto told the press after his 25-minute meeting with Pope Francis Saturday that the principal reason for the meeting was to extend an invitation for the Pontiff to visit his country in the future.
“The first purpose of my visit was to make a kind invitation on behalf of Mexico to the Pope to visit the country, which has accepted, and he told us that he will now have to see his calendar and find the time,” the president said.
Peña Nieto recounted that he told Francis that it “was a motive of great joy, because the Mexican people are by its majority, Catholics.” He added that the Pope showed that he has “a special affection for the Mexican people.”
The conversations between Peña Nieto and the Pontiff focused on various aspects of life in Mexico, among them “numerous recent reforms, in particular the constitutional amendments regarding religious freedom,” the Vatican said in a statement.
“Attention then turned to other matters of common interest, such as migration, the struggle against poverty and unemployment, and initiatives for combating violence and drug trafficking,” the statement continued.
Peña Nieto said he gift the Pope a statute of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Patron Saint of Mexico, and the jersey of the Mexican national soccer team signed by all the players.
In return, Francis gifted the president a bronze medal that represents one of the projects from St. Peter’s Basilica.
Peña Nieto was accompanied by a 17-person delegation that included his wife Angelica Rivera de Peña and Jose Antonio Meade Kuribreña, secretary of foreign relations.
The meeting marked the first private audience the Argentine Pope had given to the Mexican president.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.