Saudi Arabian King Received at the Vatican

Source: FSSPX News


At the end of the interview, the Saudi Arabian king, wearing the traditional Saudi headgear, the “guthra”, a white scarf tied with a black cord, and clothed in a large blue, white and gold tunic, introduced the pope to his delegation of a dozen men in traditional garb.

For the traditional exchange of gifts, King Abdallah presented Benedict XVI with a large Arab gold sword with precious gems set in its handle, as well as  a little sculpture in gold and silver depicting a camel and a palm leaf. The pope gave the Saudi sovereign a large 16th-century engraving of the Vatican, and a gold medal of his pontificate.

Next, the king of Saudi Arabia met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See in charge of relationships with the various States.

That very day, a press release from the Press Office of the Holy See read: “The meetings took place in a cordial atmosphere and provided an opportunity to consider questions close to the heart of both sides. In particular, the commitment to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue aimed at peaceful and fruitful coexistence between individuals and peoples was reiterated, as was the importance of collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values, especially in support of the family.

   "The Vatican authorities expressed their hope for the prosperity of all the inhabitants of the country, and mention was made of the positive and industrious presence of Christians.

   "Finally, views were exchanged on the situation in the Middle East and on the need to find a just solution to the conflicts affecting the region, especially that between Israelis and Palestinians."

The Osservatore Romano, in its November 5, 2007 issue had called the visit of the Saudi king to the Vatican “of great importance.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office and of the Vatican Television Center, declared in the editorial of the weekly magazine program Octava Dies of the Vatican TV Center on November 11:

“The private audience granted by the pope to the Saudi Arabian king drew the attention of most of the media worldwide and was almost everywhere interpreted as a positive sign. The guardian of the holy places of Islam (the mosques of Mecca and Medina) had asked to be received by the highest authority in the Catholic Church to promote, by common consent, the defense of religious, moral, and pacific values, in a world in which godlessness and moral disorders cause destruction, and in which violence and war are still rampant. The intention is a noble one, and it is also worthy of appreciation that the Jews were also expressly mentioned in the perspective of dialogue and commitment.

“However, we know quite well that, unlike the other countries of the Arabic Peninsula, Saudi Arabia grants no  religious liberty to the Christians -- over a million of them (mainly Filipinos) -- who live there because of their job. Their presence and living conditions were discreetly brought to the attention of the illustrious guest. We are not presently considering diplomatic relationships, but this does not prevent meetings to understand and know each other better.

“The king had already been received by John Paul II when he was still but the heir to the throne. He knew that the Holy See is always ready to welcome those who come with peaceful intentions. But, this time, his visit to the Vatican as king is much more significant. And, it is not surprising that this visit was the most looked forward to during his tour of Europe and that which was most attentively followed by the media. It contributed to cross over the gap separating us. The tensions consequent to the Regensburg incident are being dispelled. The pope is appreciated and understood for his coherence and loyalty.”

Benedict XVI had received Saud Al Faisal, foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, in Castel Gandolfo this past September 6. “The meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere and provided an opportunity to speak of subjects of common interest, and especially of the defense of moral and religious values, the conflict in the Middle-East, the political and religious situation in Saudi Arabia, the importance of interreligious dialogue and the contribution of believers from various religions to concord between nations and individuals. The hope of launching peace initiatives was mentioned,” had declared the press release from the Press Office. (sources: CIPA/Imedia/VIS/