(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis had a private meeting in the Vatican on Friday with Rome’s newly elected mayor, Virginia Raggi of the ‘5 Star Movement’.
The 37 year old lawyer is the youngest person ever to head Rome’s City Council, as well as the first female mayor of the Eternal City.
Virginia Raggi swept to victory in the run-off election last month, capturing over 67% of the vote for her anti-establishment party. She pledged to tackle the city’s most enduring problems, from traffic congestion, to waste management, from lack of social housing to the endemic corruption that erupted most recently in the Mafia Capitale scandals.
At the meeting with Pope Francis, Raggi was accompanied by her parents and her six year old son Matteo, as well as by members of her staff. She also brought with her a tablet, on which she showed the Pope a collection of video-messages recorded by Roman citizens living in some of the poorest and most run-down parts of the capital.
Voices from Rome's peripheries
These voices of “forgotten Rome”, as she called them, included messages of encouragement for the Pope’s reform programme, but also requests for an end to tax exemptions for church properties that are involved in commercial activities.
At the end of the half hour meeting, the new mayor told Vatican Radio she was very moved by her first encouter with the Pope.
Virginia Raggi on Vatican Radio
Raggi said the meeting was a “very good” one and that she was particularly struck by the humanity of the Holy Father. She went on to say that after so many years of people focused on their own profits, her goal is to get people working for the common good and to bring those positive values into the heart of her administration.
Raggi is the third mayor of Rome to meet with Pope Francis since his election in March 2013. Later on Friday she was due to attend celebrations at the Apostolic Nunziature to Italy marking the third anniversary of Jorge Bergoglio’s pontificate.
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