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Pope Francis and Angela Merkel discuss poverty and war

Pope Francis and Chancellor Merkel met in the Vatican on Saturday (PA)

Pope Francis met German chancellor Angela Merkel at a private audience in the Vatican on Saturday.

The two leaders spoke for 40 minutes at the Pontifical Library, after which Ms Merkel met the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. She then visited the Communita di Sant’Egidio, the Rome-based lay charity group.

Ms Merkel, who had traveled to Rome to meet the Pope, said the purpose of the visit was to discuss the upcoming G7 summit in Munich in June. The emphasis will be the elimination of poverty which, she said, was “of particular importance for the Pope and the Catholic Church”.

The Holy See issued a statement pointing out that the Pope and the Chancellor had discussed “various questions of an international nature, with particular reference to the struggle against poverty and hunger”.

They also talked about the crisis in the Ukraine as well as women’s rights. At the end of the meeting came an exchange of gifts. The German leader offered the Pope a collection of Bach CDs and an envelope of money for child refugees from Iraq and Syria. The Chancellor also said the plight of the refugees arriving in Italy in boats was “simply unacceptable”.