Italian Prime Minister Visits Pontiff

Discuss the Plight of Religious Minorities

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2012 ( Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti visited Benedict XVI today at the Vatican, and among the topics the two discussed was the protection of religious minorities.

Monti was accompanied by Giuliomaria Terzi di Sant'Agata, minister for foreign affairs; Enzo Moavero Milanesi, minister for European affairs; and Antonio Catricala, under secretary for the council of ministers.

The group went on to meet with the Pope's secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was accompanied by Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States.

"During the cordial discussions consideration was given to the social situation in Italy and to the government's efforts in that field, as well as to the Catholic Church's contribution to national life," a Vatican communiqué reported. "Attention also turned to the current international situation, from Europe to the situation in the southern Mediterranean. Finally the parties dwelt on the protection of religious minorities, particularly Christian minorities, in various areas of the world."

According to the Pew Forum, some 10% of Christians around the world live in places where they are a minority.