• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Modi gives Pope a warm hug at G7, invites religious leader to India

I admire his commitment to serve people and make our planet better, the Indian PM later wrote on X about the Catholic leader.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi welcomes Pope Francis ahead of a working session on Artificial Intelligence (AI), energy, Africa-Mediterranean on day two of the 50th G7 summit at Borgo Egnazia in Fasano, Italy, on June 14, 2024. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIAN prime minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis met with a warm embrace at the Outreach Session of the G7 Summit in Apulia, southern Italy, on Friday (14) where they joined other world leaders to discuss pressing global issues.

The Indian leader was seen in a light-hearted exchange with the 87-year-old head of the worldwide Catholic Church, who was taken around the table in a wheelchair to greet the world leaders gathered at the summit venue – Borgo Egnazia.

Modi posted photos from the meeting on X and wrote: “Met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the G7 Summit. I admire his commitment to serve people and make our planet better. Also invited him to visit India.”

Speaking about the meeting, Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, the Archbishop of the Faridabad Syro-Malabar Diocese in India, in a video message, said, “It was so pleasant to see our PM Modi meeting Pope Francis this morning in Italy. The official press release of The Holy See mentions that after the discourse of Pope Francis, there was a bilateral meeting between him and PM Modi. It is so encouraging for the Christian community to see that our PM is meeting the head of the Catholic Church.

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“I hope such meetings will strengthen the bond between The Holy See and India. I recall the happy memories of the Christmas reception organised by PM Modi. While appreciating all that our PM is doing for the Christian community, our wish is that the newly installed government under the leadership of PM Modi would address the risks and challenges the Christian community is facing in our country.”

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“It is up to each of us to make good use of AI,” the Pope said in his address at the Outreach Session on the topic of Artificial Intelligence, energy, Africa, and the Mediterranean, attended by the participants of the G7 and other leaders of the Global South invited by Italian prime minister Georgia Meloni in her capacity as the president of this year’s summit.

She greeted the “Holy Father” and then joined the wheelchair-bound octogenarian as he greeted leaders with handshakes including US president Joe Biden, British prime minister Rishi Sunak, and French president Emmanuel Macron, among others.

In October 2021, Modi met Pope Francis during a private audience at the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.

At the time, the two leaders discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for people across the world. They also discussed the challenges posed by climate change.

The Indian prime minister briefed the Pope about the ambitious initiatives taken by India in combating climate change as well as India’s success in administering one billion COVID-19 vaccination doses. His Holiness is said to have appreciated India’s assistance to countries in need during the pandemic.

According to the PMO, India and The Holy See – the Vatican-based government of the Catholic Church – have friendly relations dating back to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1948.

India being home to the second-largest Catholic population in Asia is hopeful of a papal visit next year.

(With PTI inputs)

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