30-June-2014 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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President of Madagascar Visits Pope

Speak on How Poor Island Nation is Recovering and Church's Contributions

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The Church's contributions to national reconciliation, political stability, education and healthcare in Madagascar have been at the heart of conversations between Pope Francis and the country's president.

The struggles against poverty and social inequality were discussed when Pope Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Madagascar, Hery Martial Rajaonarimampianina, Saturday morning, June 28, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

During the cordial discussions, after the parties expressed satisfaction with the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Madagascar, they focused on the current phase of recovery within the struggling nation. They underlined the positive contributions of the Catholic Church on the path to national reconciliation and political stability, as well as its contributions in the education and healthcare sectors.

According to an April report in Agenzia Info Salesiana, the African nation faces a 31 percent illiteracy rate and nearly one-third of Madagascar's children are uneducated. The Salesians have schools throughout the island, as well as villages to support those who have had to leave their homes to pursue their studies.

Also, mention was made of the international situation and the conflicts affecting various regions in the world.

The president subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States.

Madagascar, an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa, has a population of roughly 22 million people, most of whom adhere to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or a combination of the two. Although the country has taken initiatives to develop education, healthcare, and business, its inhabitants continue to live in poverty, even struggling to feed themselves daily. Tensions have grown over the increasing cost of living and declining living standards among the poor and some segments of the middle class. (D.C.L.)

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