Merkel Meets Pope for Private Audience

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Pope Francis for private talks at the Vatican Saturday which addressed the state of Europe and its role in the world, the Vatican said in a statement.

Merkel flew in especially to meet the new pontiff, an encounter that lasted 45 minutes -- unusually long for a private papal audience.

"These discussions covered the long relationship between the Vatican and Germany as well as common concerns including the social, political, economic and religious situation in Europe and the world," the Vatican said.

Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran minister, attended the March 19 inauguration of Benedict XVI's successor but this was her first private meeting with Francis.

Their talks, held in the pope's library with the help of an interpreter, also covered human rights and religious freedom, said the Vatican.

Merkel gave the pope -- who spent time in Frankfurt as a philosophy and theology student in the 1980s -- three volumes of poetry by the German poet Friedrich Hoelderlin and 107 CDs featuring the composer and conductor Wilhelm Furtwaengler -- both favorites of Francis.

The German leader joked she hoped the pontiff "would have the time to listen to them all".

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