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Media Center > Press Releases > FIJI’S PRESIDENT JIOJI KONUSI KONROTE PAYS COURTESY CALL TO POPE FRANCIS IN VATICAN CITY

FIJI’S PRESIDENT JIOJI KONUSI KONROTE PAYS COURTESY CALL TO POPE FRANCIS IN VATICAN CITY

3/26/2017
March 24, 2017: Vatican City, ROME – FIJI’S Head of State, His Excellency the President Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote on Friday met with His Holiness Pope Francis for the first time since his appointment, in a meeting the President describes as ‘fruitful and inspiring’ for Fiji.

In an unprecedented long encounter, His Excellency the President met personally with Pope Francis in the Palace of the Holy Office for thirty minutes, where cordial discussions with Pope Francis centred on the existing good relations between the Holy See and Fiji, the positive contribution of the Catholic Church in Fiji to nation building and Fiji’s upcoming global responsibilities on Oceans and climate change.

His Excellency the President also discussed the issue of climate change and Fiji’s Presidency of COP23, and took the opportunity to request the support of Pope Francis to support Fiji’s leadership responsibilities.

The Pope spoke about the ethical dimensions of climate change, which he said demanded solidarity with the most vulnerable social groups and countries, and with the new generations.

The President said, “Pope Francis possessed a very good sense of humour and we had a very positive discussions on the important international responsibilities Fiji was assuming.”

“I also took the time to invite His Holiness to visit Fiji in the near future, to which Pope Francis was thankful and said he would consider.”

President Konrote presented Pope Francis with a lali (Fiji wooden gong) carved from a mahogany tree that once stood outside Fiji’s state-house that fell in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

“The wooden lali carving was symbolic to summon the world to take action on climate change,” His Excellency the President impressed on Pope Francis.

The Holy Father reciprocated by presenting a porcelain plate with a painting impressing humanities obligation to care for creation, a Jubilee Medal of Pope Francis’s fourth anniversary to the Papacy, as well as copies of many of his writings including the Laudato Si- an encyclical on earth-keeping and the responsibility to care for the whole of creation.

Following this special audience with Pope Francis, the President met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

Discussions took place in the Palace of the Holy Office (see map) and was cordial in nature. The good existing relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Fiji was affirmed at the meeting with Cardinal Parolin.

H. E the President spoke of the real situation Fiji and the Pacific peoples were facing in with regards to climate change and rising sea levels. He also spoke of the robust economic performance of Fiji’s economy notwithstanding the impact of the recent cyclone and flooding.

The President again used the opportunity to discuss themes of climate change and ecological justice with Cardinal Parolin.

The conversation centred on an exchange of views on the moral and ethical dimension of climate change and the role the church will play to effect positive change.”

H.E. President Konrote, kindly requested for Pope Francis’ continuous support, advocacy and championing the cause and challenges posed by climate change.

The meeting between the Holy Father and His Excellency the President of Fiji, comes on the back of a UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) international conference on the importance of soils in absorbing carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere, where the President was the guest of honour and keynote speaker. That UN meeting drew participation from 140 member states who are members of the FAO.

His Excellency President Konrote was accompanied to the Vatican by Fiji’s High Commissioner to London and Fiji’s non-resident Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr. Jitoko Tikolevu, Fiji’s Ambassador to Brussels Mr. Deo Saran, Official Secretary to the President Mr. Pene Baleinabuli and senior government and aide officials.

(Photo Credit - AP) 
 
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