In his first private audience with a world leader since his inauguration, Pope Francis will welcome United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Vatican next week.
The South Korean U.N. chief will be making an unscheduled visit to the Vatican at the end of an official European visit that has included stops in San Marino, Andorra, Monaco, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula are expected to top the agenda, as well as the conflict in Syria, other parts of the Middle East and Africa.
The Holy See has permanent observer status at the United Nations. Informed Vatican sources say its position with regards the international body will remain “unchanged” and Pope Francis is expected to deal with the organisation in the same way as his predecessors.
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Under the new Pope, the Holy See is expected to continue to help promote and help coordinate those areas on which the United Nations and the Holy See agree such as poverty reduction and peacekeeping. But it will also continue to denounce core U.N. positions that are against life such as promotion of abortion and the homosexual agenda.
In his traditional Easter message, Pope Francis called for peace in the Middle East, especially for “dear Syria,” among Israelis and Palestinians, and in Iraq. He also expressed his concern for victims of conflict and terrorism in several African countries, and appealed for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.
The Pope also condemned greed and selfishness, particularly that which leads to trafficking of both people and drugs, and the “iniquitous exploitation” of natural resources.
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