Italy: Pope Francis meets Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

Pope Francis met Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s first female prime minister, at the Vatican.

The private meeting, which lasted a little over 30 minutes, marked the third time in nine days the 45-year-old politician was at the Vatican.

Meloni was among the first to pay her respects to the late Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Basilica on January 2, together with Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella. She also attended the funeral of the pope emeritus on January 5.

Meloni introduced her team to Pope Francis. Her 6-year-old daughter, Ginevra, also took part in the meeting — Meloni’s first papal audience since becoming prime minister on Oct. 22, 2022.

After Meloni and Pope Francis spoke privately in the apostolic palace, the two exchanged gifts. Meloni then met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

According to the Vatican, the discussion focused on the country’s top social issues, including the family, the demographic situation, poverty, and education.

International topics included Europe, immigration, and the conflict in Ukraine.

Meloni became the first female prime minister of Italy after the right-wing “Fratelli d’Italia” (Brothers of Italy) party won the Italian election in September 2022.

Her platform supported traditional families, national identity, and the country’s Christian roots.

While an avowed Christian, Meloni is not married to her live-in partner, Italian television journalist Andrea Giambruno, with whom she had her daughter.

In a video message on January 1, Meloni thanked Pope Francis for his greeting to the government. Noting the death of Benedict XVI the day prior, she called the late pope emeritus “a giant of faith and reason, who will be missed by everyone.”