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Germany's Scholz meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

March 2, 2024

Olaf Scholz and Pope Francis discussed the Middle East, the Ukraine war, and the migration crisis during their meeting in the Vatican. The German chancellor described the talk as "important" and "meaningful."

Pope Francis receives German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during an audience at the Vatican March 2, 2024.
It was Scholz's first private audience with the pope since becoming chancellorImage: Vatican Media/REUTERS

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met Pope Francis on Saturday at the Vatican for a private audience.

Although the two leaders have met before, the Saturday visit was their first private face-to-face meeting.

They talked for around 30 minutes in the Apostolic Palace, discussing the situation in the Middle East and Russia's war in Ukraine as well as the response to migration.

Pope Francis receives German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during an audience at the Vatican March 2, 2024.
The two leaders met amid continued fighting in both Ukraine and GazaImage: Vatican Media/REUTERS

The German leader said it was an "important conversation at a time when it crucial for us to look to the future with a clear view and have clear principles."

"For me personally also, an important, meaningful conversation," he added.  

Why is Scholz visiting Rome?

Scholz arrived in Rome on Friday and met Italian President Sergio Mattarella. He did not meet Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is currently visiting the United States. Italy currently holds the rotating presidency of the G7 group.

The left-leaning chancellor was scheduled to meet Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez after his appointment at the Vatican. They are both expected to attend the Party of European Socialists (PES) gathering in Rome that comes ahead of June’s European elections.

First private audience for Scholz

The German leader and the pontiff had spoken by phone before, and they met at the funeral of Benedict XVI in the Vatican.

Although Scholz is non-denominational, more than 20.94 million people — just under a quarter of Germany's population — are registered Catholic church members.

Scholz's predecessor, Angela Merkel, visited Pope Francis five times in the Vatican between 2013, when he took office, and 2021, when she left.

lo/msh (dpa, KNA)