Pope Francis will receive former Brazilian president Lula de Silva next February 13, according to reports advanced by the country's media and later confirmed by Lula in his twitter account.
The first reports indicated that Lula informed federal judge Vallisney de Oliveira, of the 10th Criminal Federal Court of Brasilia, that he requested authorization to visit the Vatican to have a hearing with the Pontiff on February 13.
The trip is scheduled from February 12 to 15, and for that reason, De Oliveira was asked to suspend the interrogation in the so-called Operation Zealots, scheduled for February 11. In this criminal complaint, Lula is charged with crimes of passive corruption for having participated in the sale of Provisional Measure 471, of 2009, which extended tax incentives for automakers established in the north, northeast and west-central regions.
Apparently Argentine president Alberto Fernandez played an influential role in the coming interview.
In effect according to Brasil 247 website, president Fernandez told Radio France International (RFI) station on Saturday that His Holiness will be delighted to welcome the former president.
RFI station indicated that the issue arose when Fernandez and the Pope talked about 'lawfare,' a legal term used by the Lava Jato anti-corruption operation against the former Brazilian president.
Francis also sent a letter in May to Lula asking him not to be discouraged. 'Good will overcome evil, truth will overcome lies, and salvation will overcome condemnation,' the universal pastor of the Church wrote.
Finally Lula da Silva announced he will meet with Pope Francis.
“I will visit Pope Francis to thank him not only for his solidarity with me in a difficult time, but especially for his dedication to the oppressed people. I also want to discuss the Brazilian experience in the fight against poverty.”
His lawyers said Lula asked to postpone a court hearing to travel to the Vatican on Feb. 13. The Holy See has not confirmed the visit, but during the Argentine president's visit with Pope Francis, Fernández said he talked about this potential meeting.
“Lula asked me if he could see the pope. So I asked the pope if he could receive Lula. The pope told me of course if he writes, he would gladly receive Lula.”
The last time Lula visited the Vatican was in March 2009. His meeting with Benedict XVI lasted about 25 minutes. Among several topics, he thanked him for signing the Treaty on the activity of the Catholic Church in Brazil.