Pope Francis welcomes Swiss president to Vatican

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann during a private audience at the Vatican. Keystone

Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann was received by Pope Francis in the Vatican on Saturday. Migration, the future of Europe, and youth unemployment were among the problems discussed.

This content was published on May 7, 2016 and agencies

Schneider-Ammann spoke to the Pope of Switzerland’s willingness to help remedy the problems that are causing refugees to flee countries in crisis. The costs of helping people in their own countries are smaller than the costs of caring for migrants in Europe, he said.

At a press conference following the meeting, the Swiss president emphasised that the integration of migrants in Europe is one of the main concerns of the Holy Father.

Schneider-Ammann said he described Switzerland to the Pope as a country which assures education for all, is not bound by its laws, and benefits from a range of rational social partners. The Pope showed strong interest in the Swiss system, Schneider-Ammann reported.

“I’m incredibly happy to have had the opportunity to meet with the Pope. He’s a person of both great charisma and normality, who knows how to open doors,” said the Swiss president.

Switzerland has a special relationship with the Vatican thanks to the role of the Swiss Guard in protecting the Pope. “Switzerland is proud of the presence of the Swiss Guard in Rome,” said Schneider-Ammann. “We make a major contribution to the security of the Pope, not just symbolically but also factually.”

Schneider-Ammann was on hand in Rome for the annual ceremony in which new Swiss guards take an oath to protect the Pope. He was accompanied by the speaker of the Swiss House of Representatives, Christa Markwalder; the president of the Senate, Raphaël Compte, and the President of the Swiss Bishop’s Conference, Charles Morerod. The group met with a delegation representing politics, the military and the Church. 

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