Vatican City, Jun 22, 2017 / 07:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis met with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, discussing issues surrounding migration, poverty and the protection of the environment.
According to a June 22 Vatican communique, the three cordially discussed topics “of shared interest,” including protection of the environment, the fight against poverty and how the Holy See and Catholic Church are contributing in these areas.
Particular attention, it stated, was paid to “the phenomenon of migration, underlining the importance of peaceful co-existence between different cultures, and joint commitment to promoting peace and global security, with special reference to various areas of conflict.”
They also shared reflections on the prospects of the European project. The private portion of the audience, which included both the King and the Queen, lasted 35 minutes.
Queen Máxima, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, greeted Pope Francis in “porteño,” a dialect of Spanish spoken by people from the Río de la Plata basin of Argentina.
“How are you? Delighted to see you again,” she said.
During the visit Pope Francis gifted the royal couple a medallion depicting St. Martin of Tours, in the classic image of the saint dividing his cloak to give to a poor man.
He also gave them the customary gift of copies of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia,” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” as well as a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace.
For their part, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima gave the Pope a gift of Dutch flowers, white and yellow tulips from their country.
Giving the gifts, they told Pope Francis that tulips aren’t only for Easter, but could be planted in the Vatican.
Afterward, the two met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.
The Royal couple are in the midst of a state visit to the Italian Republic, taking place June 21-23.
Before their meeting with the Pope, the King and Queen visited the Church of Saints Michael and Magnus, the national church of the Netherlands in Rome. Located next to the Vatican, it was built in 1140 in the place where pilgrims from the Netherlands met back in the 8th century.
According to church statistics, Catholics currently make up 23 percent of the population of 17 million in the Netherlands.
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