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G-7 Summit: PM Modi hugs and greets Pope Francis in Italy, invites him to India

The prime minister also posted pictures of him shaking hands with the head of the Catholic Church and hugging him.
Last Updated : 14 June 2024, 18:00 IST

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday met Pope Francis on the sideline of the G7 summit at Apulia in Italy and once again invited him to visit India.

“Met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the @G7 Summit. I admire his commitment to serve people and make our planet better. Also invited him to visit India,” Modi posted on X after meeting the pontiff during an outreach session the G7 held with other leaders on the sideline of the bloc’s 50th summit hosted by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

The prime minister also posted pictures of him shaking hands with the head of the Catholic Church and hugging him.

Modi had invited the Pope to visit India earlier too when he had met him for the first time during his visit to Rome for the G20 summit in October 2021. The Pope had accepted the invitation with pleasure, calling it “the greatest gift”.

The visit, however, could not take place so far.

The meeting between Modi and Pope Francis in October 2021 was the first between a prime minister of India and the head of the Catholic Church in more than two decades. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had last visited the Vatican and met the then Pope, John Paul II, in June 2000.

Pope Francis had on October 2, 2016, stated that he would visit India and Bangladesh in 2017 as part of a tour to Asia. Though the Catholic Bishop Council of India had conveyed to the Modi Government its request for inviting the pontiff for a visit to India, the proposed papal visit had not taken place so far, with New Delhi citing difficulties in scheduling it.

Pope Francis had visited two other South Asian nations – Myanmar and Bangladesh – from November 27 to December 2, 2017, but not India.

Pope John Paul II was the last pontiff to visit India. He had visited as many as 14 cities across the length and breadth of India during his 10-day tour in February 1986. He had again visited India in November 1999, but his itinerary had then been limited to New Delhi only. His successor Pope Benedict XVI had given India a miss during his eight-year-long papacy.

During the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, the prime minister had told a TV channel that Pope Francis might plan a visit to India next year.

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Published 14 June 2024, 18:00 IST

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