Updated: October 30, 2021 6:25:49 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pope Francis at the Vatican Saturday in his first meeting with the head of the sovereign of the Vatican City State.
After the meeting, Modi tweeted, with pictures of him embracing the Pope, “Had a very warm meeting with Pope Francis. I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him and also invited him to visit India.”
Modi is the fifth Indian Prime Minister to have visited the head of Roman Catholics, the largest religious denomination in the world.
The meeting assumes significance as it comes at a time when Christians in many parts of the country have been complaining of harassment and attacks on the community and its institutions.
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Christians are the third largest religious community in India. According to Census 2011, they form 2.3 per cent of the population, behind Hindus (79.8%) and Muslims (14.2%).
Before Modi, Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, I K Gujral, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had met the then Popes in the Vatican.
Modi will participate in the first session of G20 on Global Economy and Global Health. He arrived at the summit venue, where he was warmly welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
He had met Draghi for a bilateral meeting Friday, where they agreed on a Joint Statement on Italy-India Strategic Partnership in Energy Transition.
Modi will also meet French President Emannuel Macron, Indonesian President Joao Widodo and Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong.
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