Arroyo and Benedict XVI Discuss Rights

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2007 ( Human rights were one of the central themes that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benedict XVI touched on when they met in audience.

Arroyo, whose country has the largest number of Catholics in Asia, met with the Pope today.

After the papal audience, she met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

“During the discussions reference was made to the cordial relations that exist between the Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines, and to the understanding and cooperation between Church and State,” said a communiqué released by the Vatican press office.

It added: “Attention also turned to the political and social situation in Southeast Asia, and especially to the respect and promotion of human rights and of democratic institutions in that region.”

Arroyo attended the Sunday ceremony where Blessed Marie-Eugénie of Jesus (1817-1898) was canonized. The miracle that allowed her canonization was the healing of a Filipino girl, Risa Bondoc, who is now 12.

Arroyo previously visited Benedict XVI last June 26.

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