Pope Francis Meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Vatican

Kerry is currently in Rome for the three-day ‘Mediterranean Dialogues’ meeting, which this year runs ends Dec. 3.

Pope Francis meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Vatican Dec. 2.
Pope Francis meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Vatican Dec. 2. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stopped by the Vatican Friday for a meeting with Pope Francis that likely centered largely on the issue of immigration.

Kerry is currently in Rome for the three-day “Rome Med — Mediterranean Dialogues” meeting, which this year runs Dec. 1-3. The annual event is a high-level initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, as well as the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).

The main purpose of the gathering is to draft a “positive agenda” for the Mediterranean region given the current challenges by coming up with new ideas and rethinking traditional approaches at both the local and international levels.

According to the website created for the event, this year’s meeting, which is only the second edition, will focus on how the Mediterranean has increasingly become “the epicenter of international disorder,” and seems to now be “synonymous” with conflict, instability, terrorism and mass migration.

A description of the meeting, titled “Beyond Turmoil. A Positive Agenda,” said leaders “are called upon to define a long-term, comprehensive strategy to stabilize the region: this should become Europe’s new historic mission.”

The first priority they highlighted was “the defeat of Daesh (ISIS) and of violent extremism,” while another goal is to look beyond the mayhem and “imagine a new regional order, built through diplomacy, ownership, resilience, partnership, governance and co-development.”

When looking to the Mediterranean, it’s important to note that it’s not just an area of crisis and instability, but also offers opportunities for Europe’s future which must be discussed and clarified in a “positive agenda” for the entire region, including Africa.

Filled with various meetings and workshops, the Rome Med meeting is set on four pillars: Shared Prosperity, Shared Security, Migration, Media and Culture and Society.

More than 500 leaders from 55 nations around the world are present for the event, including not only Kerry, but also from other nations such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Tunisia, Spain, Syria, Belgium, Sudan, Iran, Lebanon, Nigeria, France, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, China, Turkey and the UK, among others.

During his visit, Kerry also met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin and their Secretary for Relations with the States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

The last time Kerry visited the Vatican was Jan. 14, 2014, ahead of the Pope’s trip to the United States. He had been on an international diplomatic tour to promote an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and was also working for the success of the Geneva 2 Conference for peace in Syria.

Kerry’s meeting with Francis at the time focused largely on the Middle East, the Syrian conflict, the Sudan situation and religious freedom issues in the U.S.