President Alain Berset meets Pope Francis in Rome

Press releases, 09.11.2023

President Alain Berset was received by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, 9 November. The meeting focused in particular on Switzerland’s and the Holy See’s global commitment to promoting peace. Current issues such as the situation in the Middle East and Ukraine as well as the investigation into abuse cases within the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland were also discussed.

The President of the Confederation discussed with the Pope and at a further meeting with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin how Switzerland and the Holy See can work together on peace efforts, for example in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This follows on from talks that President Berset held with local church representatives while visiting the DRC and Colombia. Mr Berset praised the role of the Catholic Church in monitoring ceasefires between the Colombian government and several rebel groups as well as the peace policy commitment of the lay movement Sant'Egidio in South Sudan.

Both sides also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and the Middle East as well as climate change and the prospects for this month's UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai. They discussed what steps their countries and the global community need to take to meet the challenge of climate change. A further topic was the sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland, as revealed in mid-September in a study by the University of Zurich. President Berset emphasised that the Federal Council expects the Catholic Church to conduct a swift and thorough investigation and to take effective measures to prevent abuse in the future.

On to Paris
From Rome President Berset will continue to Paris, where he will attend the 42nd session of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also on Thursday. At the 2023 Paris Peace Forum on Friday and Saturday, which Mr Berset will also be attending, participants will discuss climate protection, global inequalities and the need for trustworthy digitalisation as well as the central question of how to support global governance in the face of growing geopolitical rivalries. In addition, the Peace Forum will host the One Planet Polar Summit, dedicated to the protection of glaciers and the polar regions.

Further information:

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Holy See (Vatican City)

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Christian Favre, co-responsible for Communications FDHA +41 79 897 61 91


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