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Bolivian president meets the Pope

18 May 2010 0:32

Bolivian President Evo Morales has met Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican.

Morales, who once called the Roman Catholic Church a political opponent, talked to the Pope about climate change and immigration on Monday, the BBC reported.

“We agree on a large range of issues such as the defense to life and the earth. We also agree on the right to stand up for immigrants,” he told reporters after the papal audience.

Morales also handed the Pope a letter in which he criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not allowing the ordination of women and asked the Pope to abolish priestly celibacy.

The Bolivian president has often criticized Bolivia’s bishops and accused them of lying to the Bolivians.

Morales, who has described himself as Catholic but also as a follower of Bolivian indigenous religious beliefs, promoted a new constitution that was approved in 2009.

The new constitution recognizes all beliefs and declares Bolivia a secular state but does not mention the Roman Catholic Church, which had been the country’s official religion according to the previous constitution.

During the rest of his European tour, the Bolivian leader will also visit Norway and Finland and will attend a summit of Latin American and European nations in Madrid on Tuesday.

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