Pope Francis prayed for unity and peace on Sunday as Italy welcomed its first female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. The pontiff said the prayer on Oct. 23 as he wrapped up his angelus address.
“And today, at the start of a new government, let us pray for unity and peace in Italy,” Catholic News Agency quoted him saying.
PM Meloni’s Response to the Pope
Prime Minister Meloni quickly thanked the pope for his well-wishes.
“I thank His Holiness #PopeFrancis for his thoughts on Italy on this very important day for the government I have the honor to preside over,” Meloni wrote on her Twitter account.
The Italian leader posted the tweet a few hours after Mario Draghi handed her the country’s parliamentary republic leadership reins at the Chigi Palace in Rome.
Aside from the pontiff, the head of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Mateo Zuppi, also congratulated Meloni on her historic political ascension.
“With you also opens a historic page for our country: the new government is the first led by a woman in the role of prime minister,” Cardinal Zuppi said in a message posted on their website.
Zuppi, who is also the archbishop of Bologna, added that the Italian Catholic Church would “engage in a constructive dialogue” that is fueled by “the desire to contribute to the pursuit of the common good of the country and to the protection of the inviolable rights of the person and the community.”
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Details of Meloni’s Ascension to Power
The CNA article noted that Meloni’s platform focused on key socio-political issues, including illegal immigration, the country’s Christian heritage, tax cuts, and support for traditional families. Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party won the Sept. 25 general election. She is among the co-founder of the party.
In 2019, Meloni talked about her steadfastness in the Christian faith.
“I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am a Christian, and you can’t take that away from me,” she said.
The Italian PM also openly admired St. John Paul II and wished to see Pope Francis face-to-face. Despite all these, the Italian media is not all positive about her.
Despite her party’s latest political triumph, the Italian press calls the Italian Prime Minister “far-right” and “fascist.” Meloni quickly rejected both labels.
When she was still a teenager in 1996, Meloni reportedly called the late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini a “good politician.” The Italian PM then distanced herself from such comments and denied accusations that her party was looking back to the country’s fascist past.
Italy’s New Government
Meloni begins her government with members from the League and Forza Italia parties of Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, respectively. But, this early, there is already a brewing rift within the new Italian government.
Last week, Meloni strongly criticized Berlusconi because of the latter’s statement detailing an exchange of gifts with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Italy, with its head high, is part of Europe and the (NATO) Atlantic alliance. Whoever doesn’t agree with this cornerstone cannot be part of the government, at the cost of not having a government,” Meloni told the Associated Press.
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