Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will meet with Pope Francis at a private audience in the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. The Queen, who’ll be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will also have a private encounter with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano during the one day visit to Rome.
The audience with Pope Francis will mark the 87-year-old Queen’s fifth encounter with a Roman pontiff here in the Vatican, beginning with Pope Pius XII whom she met in 1951, the year before her accession to the throne. In 1982 she became the first monarch since the Reformation to welcome a pope to Britain during John Paul II’s pastoral visit to the country and in 2010 she also hosted Pope Benedict XVI on his state visit to the United Kingdom.
Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker said the Queen was due to come to Rome in 2013 at the private invitation of President Napolitano of Italy...but had been unable to come because of ill health...she doesn't like leaving obligations unfulfilled so she was determined to reinstate that visit....it is normal when the Queen comes to Rome that she would visit the Pope so we're delighted that the Queen and Pope Francis will have that chance to get together....
Ambassador Baker added that the encounter itself will be private but it is still an officially recognized visit: it will be a public event in terms of arrival and departure.
This will be I think the 7th time she's met a pope and the 5th different pope she'll have met.....these meetings help to strengthen the relationship, they help to provide milestones in a sense and if you look back in terms of the Queen's reign, it is extraordinary how far relations between Britain and the Holy See, and between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church has developed since 1952 when she became Queen
Finally we have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who met Pope Francis last year in June and I very much expect him to meet the Pope again in the next few months....the Queen will want I think to understand from Pope Francis how he sees the role of faith in the world....
The visit comes a day after the 32nd anniversary of the Argentine military invasion of the Falkland Islands (2 April) which led to war with the UK, and concluded 74 days later with the complete defeat of the Argentine forces and a year later the collapse of the military dictatorship that had ruled the country since 1976.
The anniversary is remembered in Argentina as the “Day of the Veterans and Fallen in the Falklands War.
Only two weeks ago the Pope met with some Malvinas veterans at St Peter's square and according to the reports, Francis called on us to continue working for peace.
When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was Buenos Aires cardinal, in 2012, he strongly stated that the Malvinas Islands were 'an usurped territory and they are ours, a fact that surfaced later in 2013 when he was nominated Pope. However Vatican diplomacy was prompt in pointing out what has been the long established policy of the Holy See, it's a dispute between two sovereign states.