Pope Francis welcomed the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, to the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
This marks the first time the president met the Pope. In fact, he took office recently, on July 1, 2014. Just a few minutes after greeting the Pope, the president introduced his wife.
"We pray so much for you.”
"I need it.”
"You can count on our prayers.”
After the president's family took a picture with the Pope, both leaders exchanged gifts. Varela gave the Pope a framed image of the Patroness of Panama, Santa Maria La Antigua.
During their meeting they talked about the country's social problems like poverty and the vulnerability of the needy. In light of this, the president made a special request. He asked the Pope to personally sign a passage from his apostolic exhortation, Evangeli Gaudium, where he highlights the need for social justice.
The president said, he wants his government to honor and remember that message.
Their discussion also included the 7th Summit on the Americas, which Panama will host in 2015.
The Pope gave the president a medallion and a copy of the Aparecida document, which he helped write. It's something he always gives to Latin American leaders. He gave the rest of the presidential family and his staff, a rosary, before concluding the meeting.