Date: Monday, 21 January 2019
Alessandro Di Bussolo - Vatican City
The recent agreement and the resumption of diplomatic relations with Eritrea was at the center of the cordial meeting, this afternoon shortly after 4 pm, of Pope Francis with the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the 42-year-old Abiy Ahmed, accompanied by followed by six people. The interview, which took place in the Apostolic Palace, lasted about 15 minutes. The Vatican Press Room reportsthat "there was talk of Ethiopia's commitment to the stabilization of the Horn of Africa" and "we focused on the regional situation, on the peaceful solution of conflicts and on the socio-economic development of Africa". The Pope and the Ethiopian premier have also spoken of "important initiatives in progress for the promotion of national reconciliation, as well as for the integral development of the country". In this context, the press release reported again, "we did not fail to highlight the role of Christianity in the history of the Ethiopian people and to enhance the contribution of Catholic institutions in the educational and health field".
At the end of the meeting, the premier gave the Pope some of the typical fabrics of Ethiopia and a painting depicting the Risen Christ. In turn, Francesco gave a medallion of an artist of the last century depicting the desert on which a spike and a bunch of grapes stand out: a reference - the Pope explained - to Isaiah's prophecy "the desert will one day become a garden". Donated also the text of the Message for the Day of Peace 2019 and the four pontifical documents: Evangelii Gaudium , Laudato si ' , Gaudete et Exultate and Amoris Laetitia . Subsequently, the Ethiopian premier was received by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.
The Pope's audience with premier Abiy Ahmed arrives at an important moment for Ethiopia which, after 20 years of war and thousands of victims, signed peace with Eritrea last year. A historical fact, as Pope Francis wanted to underline last January 7, in his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See :
During the last year there have been some significant signs of peace, starting with the historic agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which ends twenty years of conflict and restores diplomatic relations between the two countries.
A path of peace that the Pope also wanted to encourage at the Angelus on the first of July 2018:
Pope Francis, already in May 2014 in his address to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Ethiopia and Eritrand on a "ad limina" visit, had invoked peace in the tortured region of the Horn of Africa:
Dear brother bishops, together with the priests, religious, and lay faithful of your local Churches, - he said on that occasion - you are called to spread this fragrance of Christ in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Many years of conflict and constant tension, as well as widespread poverty and drought conditions, have brought so much suffering to people. I thank you for the generous social programs which, inspired by the Gospel, offer in collaboration with the various religious, charitable and government agencies, aimed at alleviating this suffering. I am thinking in particular of the many children you serve, who are hungry and have been orphaned because of violence and poverty. I also think of young people who, like many of their friends and family, otherwise they would like to flee their country in search of more opportunities and risk losing their lives in dangerous journeys. And of course we must always remember the many elderly people who, in the midst of so many difficulties, could be so easily forgotten. Your efforts towards them, which give such a powerful testimony of God's love among you, are an extraordinary grace for people. In your loving concern for the poor and the oppressed, you can continue to seek new opportunities to cooperate with civil authorities in promoting the common good. " that give such a powerful testimony of the love of God among you, they are an extraordinary grace for the people. In your loving concern for the poor and the oppressed, you can continue to seek new opportunities to cooperate with civil authorities in promoting the common good. " that give such a powerful testimony of the love of God among you, they are an extraordinary grace for the people. In your loving concern for the poor and the oppressed, you can continue to seek new opportunities to cooperate with civil authorities in promoting the common good. "