President Higgins to meet Pope Francis next week

President Higgins to meet Pope Francis next week Pope Francis meets President Michael D. Higgins during a private audience at the Vatican in 2017. Photo: CNS

Pope Francis is to receive President Michael D. Higgins in private audience at the Vatican next Friday, September 17.

As part of his visit to the Vatican, Mr Higgins will also meet with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

A communique from Áras an Uachtaráin today (Friday) said that the president will discuss with Pope Francis issues such as development, migration and climate change.

It noted that Mr Higgins has frequently referred to the Pope’s interventions on these issues as “inspirational”.

While in Rome, Mr Higgins will also discuss the future of European co-operation in a post-pandemic world as part of the so-called ‘Arraiolos Group’ of the 13 non-executive heads of state of the European Union (EU).

The meeting will be hosted by President of Italy Sergio Mattarella. The heads of state are expected to focus on European co-operation in the face of global challenges, including the economic changes needed post-Covid and the Future of Europe discussion underway.

Mr Higgins’ itinerary in Rome also includes bilateral meetings with President Mattarella, the President of Malta, George Vella, the President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, President Marcelo Rebelo De Sousa of Portugal and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.

In the context of Ireland’s role at the United Nations Security Council and the upcoming UN food systems summit, President Higgins will also be meeting with the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Qu Dongyu. He will also be discussing Ireland’s relations with the World Food Programme with WFP staff members.

President Higgins will commence his visit with a meeting at the Villa Spada with some members of the Irish community in Rome. The meeting is organised by the Irish Ambassador to Italy Colm Ó Floinn and the Ambassador to the Holy See Derek Hannon.