(Vatican Radio) “It was a very special day for me being the representative of Ireland here at the Holy See”, says Ambassador Emma Madigan, who presented her credentials to Pope Francis in a private meeting Tuesday morning at the Vatican.
In doing so, Ambassador Madigan becomes the first woman to hold the position and re-establishes the resident embassy to the Holy See from Ireland in Rome. The Irish government closed the embassy in November 2011 citing economic reasons. In the intervening years relations were maintained by a non-resident Ambassador.
Speaking to Emer McCarthy, the Ambassador describes her welcome as “a great experience”: “I was received very warmly by Pope Francis although the ceremony itself around the credentials was formal, the discussion itself was informal and it was a very relaxed conversation”.
The Ambassador says that this conversation “covered many things. We spoke of priorities that are very dear to Ireland such as our development program, our concern regarding the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in the world today. I was able to update Pope Francis on talks in Northern Ireland and of course on recent developments in Ireland more broadly”.
Ambassador Madigan said Pope Francis “responded very well to the updates I was giving him and expressed very warm interest in our development program, which perhaps in many ways chimes with his own messages in ensuring that the vulnerable and marginalized are not left behind”.
According to the Ambassador Ireland is currently in the process of “reviewing its own foreign policy” in the context of “trying to achieve a more fair just and stable world, making sure vulnerable and marginalized are not left behind, for example the disabled, the unemployed youth and, of course, these are also priorities of Pope Francis so he responded with great interest”.
On a more personal note the Ambassador says what she wasn’t expecting was the Pope’s sense of humor, “we had a few laughs, he had a very open and very warm approach to me. After the ceremony he met my husband and son and he gave my son a high five”.
Ms. Madigan concludes that it was “a special day to be able to bring the best wishes of the President of Ireland and the Government of Ireland to Pope Francis and ensure him of our continuing support and the ever deepening relations between Ireland and the Holy See”.
Previously Ambassador Madigan was Assistant Chief of Protocol in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Throughout her 14 year career, she has also served as Vice Consul in New York, Private Secretary to the Secretary General and Deputy Director of Europe and UN Coordination Section.
Ambassador Madigan has a degree in History and Italian and a Masters in European Studies from University College Dublin.
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