Pope Francis, Stephen Harper meet at Vatican
Francis, Canadian PM also discuss Ukraine, environmental issues
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Pope Francis discussed the situation in Ukraine and environmental issues, as well as a recommendation in a report on the treatment of Canadian children at residential schools, when the two met at the Vatican today.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement following the 10-minute meeting, saying Harper and Francis discussed global security challenges.
"Prime Minister Harper addressed the situation in Ukraine and his deep concern with Vladimir Putin's aggression, occupation and violence in Ukraine," the PMO's statement said.
On Wednesday, the Pope met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, also at the Vatican, for almost an hour.
The PMO said Harper also drew attention to a letter sent to the Holy See last week by Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt that brought key recommendations included in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report to its attention.
The report urged the Pope to travel to Canada to issue a formal apology for "the church's role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools."
While there was no word if Harper invited Francis to Canada to make that apology, he did extend an invitation to come for the country's 150th birthday celebrations in 2017.
The Vatican said environmental issues were discussed, without adding any specifics. The Pope has raised the topic with several world leaders recently.
On June 18, Francis will release one of his occasional "encyclicals" – a letter to one billion Catholics worldwide – with a focus on stewardship of the environment.
Thursday is the final day of Harper's six-country European trip, which included stops in Ukraine and Poland.
With files from The Canadian Press