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Pope Francis welcomes the president of Cameroon and his wife Chantal

2013-10-18

The President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, walked into the Apostolic Palace joined by Georg Gänswein, for hisfirst official audience with the Pope Francis. Inside his office, the Pope welcomed him with a smile as the two shook hands and greeted each other in French.   

The two leaders then met briefly, for about 15 minutes. But their topics were of huge importance. President Biya and the Vatican concluded an Agreement on the legal status of the Catholic Church in Cameroon, that will be signed soon. 

The Vatican said the agreement ensures the Churchs ability to continue its work, not just at the pews, but out in the community, in fields like education and health care. 

With the help of an interpreter, the two leaders also addressed the challenges people in Sub-Saharan Africa endure, as well as the role Cameroon plays in tackling those challenges. 

After their meeting, the president introduced his eye-catching wife, Chantal. Usually well-known for her flashy clothes, this time around the first lady wore a black outfit, with a black veil. But adding a touch of her personality, her veil prominently featured sequins

Nearly a dozen government ministers also joined the president. After greeting them individually, the Pope and the the African head of state exchanged gifts. 

The president gave Pope Francis an embroidered cloak featuring St. Francis, as well as a small statue of the Black Madonna holding Baby Jesus. In turn the Pope gave the president a papal medallion commemorating his pontificate. 

As they said farewell, first to the first lady, then the president, the Pope asked them to pray for him. 


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