Vatican City, Oct 24, 2020 / 07:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis met with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the Vatican Saturday.

The Vatican said Oct. 24 that the pope received the Socialist leader in a private audience for approximately 35 minutes at the Apostolic Palace. 

In improvised remarks that were captured on video, the pope reflected on the vocation of politicians and highlighted the dangers of ideological thinking.

“It is very sad when ideologies take over the interpretation of a nation, a country, and disfigure the homeland,” he said.

Sánchez later held talks with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States, the Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister.

“The talks in the Secretariat of State focused on bilateral relations and issues of common interest that concern the Holy See and Spain,” the Holy See press office said.

“The opportunity for constant dialogue between the local Church and government authorities was also emphasized.”

“Finally, some international issues were discussed, such as the current health emergency, the process of European integration, and migration.”

Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, has previously clashed with the Church in Spain over religious instruction in schools and euthanasia, among other issues. 

In July, he claimed that Pope Francis had intervened to help the government carry out the controversial exhumation of the body of Francisco Franco, Spain’s ruler from 1939 to 1975, from the Valley of the Fallen on Oct. 24, 2019.

This prompted the Holy See to issue a statement insisting that it had never “made any declaration on either the exhumation or the place of burial, because it is not part of its competency.”

“On the question of Francisco Franco’s exhumation, [the Holy See] has repeated on various occasions its respect for the legality and the decisions of the competent governmental and judicial authorities,” it said.

During his audience with Pope Francis, Sánchez gave the pope a facsimile of a Book of Hours by Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, a counselor to Ferdinand and Isabella, the 15th-century Catholic Monarchs of Spain.

The pope gave Sánchez a copy of his encyclicals, as well as a bronze relief. The artwork, by Daniela Fusco in collaboration with Michele Palazzetti, expresses the themes of mercy, welcome, and fraternity, according to the Vatican.

Pedro Sánchez ha regalado al Papa un facsímil del Libro de horas del obispo Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca. Y el #Papa una copia de sus Encíclicas y este relieve de bronce con “mensaje”, símbolo de misericordia, acogida y fraternidad. pic.twitter.com/8ZXM1hw8ud

— Eva Fernández (@evaenlaradio) October 24, 2020

 

The relief depicts a mother with a child in her arms at the entrance to the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square. Behind her, there are other migrants in a boat on the water. Two hands are joined in front of the mother and child. 

Beneath are written the words “Riempiamo le mani di altre mani” (“Let’s fill our hands with other hands”), which the Vatican said referred to the pope’s appeals to welcome others and show mercy.

After the audience, Sánchez expressed gratitude for his meeting with the pope. 

“We agreed to address the crisis caused by COVID-19 from a multilateralist perspective and with a social outlook; protecting the most vulnerable and moving forward, all of society united, towards a more just and solidary world,” he wrote on Twitter.