The Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, today held a 50-minute meeting with Pope Francis, a private audience in which they addressed issues such as the registration of ecclesiastical assets or the investigation that the Ombudsman, Ángel Gabilondo, will lead on cases of sexual abuse in the Church. As has been happening in recent weeks, Francisco has received him in a wheelchair due to his difficulties in walking due to problems with his right knee.
According to the minister, whose powers include religious freedom and relations with religious confessions, clerical pederasty is an issue that "concerns the Pontiff", with whom they have exchanged an opinion on the importance of "protecting the victims” of these crimes and that all measures adopted are directed to that end. “It is important that the Church collaborate in this commission because it is for the benefit of the Catholic Church itself, it must be aware of how important it is to clarify the facts, prevent and give affection and protection to the victims so that they do not repeat themselves in the future. ”, he assured at a press conference at the Spanish embassy to the Holy See.
On the issue of registrations, Bolaños explained that they have valued the agreements with the Episcopal Conference and that "in the points of divergence it is important to dialogue", for which he has conveyed the will of the Spanish Government to "continue the path dialogue with the Catholic Church to resolve matters of common interest. For his part, the Pope encouraged them to "continue dialogue to reach agreements."
Bolaños' audience was one of several meetings held by the Argentine pope on Monday morning, an unusual appointment since the Pontiff usually only receives heads of state, government or vice presidents. Bolaños has said that they asked for the hearing just after being appointed to the position and a month ago it was granted, thanks also to the insistence of the new ambassador to the Holy See, the former Minister of Education Isabel Celaá.
"I am very honored to have been received by His Holiness", the minister remarked, highlighting the "profound knowledge" that the Pope has on Spanish issues and the "affection" he feels for the country. Bolaños has discovered in Francisco a "warm and affectionate" person, and what has impressed him most is that he is "a good man." "This papacy is bringing the Catholic Church closer to the world," he stressed. Asked about the health of the Pontiff, an issue that worries the Vatican these days after he had to cancel a trip to Africa, the Minister of the Presidency said that he had seen Bergoglio very encouraged by his recovery from his knee pain and with strength to continue with this pontificate.
As established by protocol, the minister presented the Pontiff with an illuminated copy of an excerpt from the Cantigas de Santa María, songs dedicated to the Virgin and performed on the desk of King Alfonso X, who is credited with promoting the School of Translators of Toledo, as "expression of the coexistence of the three monotheistic religions", according to the Department of the Presidency. This copy was prepared by students of the National Heritage Artistic Bookbinding Workshop School, created for the employment of unemployed youth. In addition , has also presented him with saffron from Villafranca ded los Caballeros (La Mancha Designation of Origin), two bottles of olive oil from two cooperatives in Jaén and bananas grown on the island of La Palma, as a "gesture of recognition before the Holy Father of the exemplary behavior and solidarity of the people of La Palma during the eruption of the volcano." Francisco has responded by giving him all his encyclicals, a medallion of br eleven symbolizing friendship and fraternity and a commemorative medal for the ninth year of his pontificate.