Seychelles President James Michel has attended an audience with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, at the Holy See in Vatican City. The President was accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Paul Adam and the Principal Secretary for Information Rene Morel.
“I was deeply moved by the warm reception I received from the Holy Father, especially as this is the second time that we have met to discuss matters of importance to the Holy See and to Seychelles. We discussed the work of the Roman Catholic Church in Seychelles and Africa, the conservation of the environment, and the need to promote peace and equity in the region,” said President Michel following the audience.
“His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has conveyed his thoughts and prayers to the people of Seychelles, and I also assured His Holiness of the warm wishes and prayers from people of Seychelles.”
President Michel noted that the audience with the Holy Father is of particular importance to the people of Seychelles, as 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic faithful, belonging to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Victoria which is led by Mgr. Bishop Denis Wiehe.
“We are very blessed in Seychelles to have peace and stability. While we have many challenges ahead us, we recognize that the Roman Catholic Church has a vast role to play in Seychellois society, particularly in the education of young people to lead a good and moral life, as well as rehabilitation of those who have fallen into the trap of drug abuse and alcoholism.”
President Michel noted that Pope Benedict XVI has been particularly concerned with environmental issues of this era, calling on people around the world to change their lifestyles in order to ensure global peace and stability.
“The Pope’s support, understanding, and appeal for the fight against climate change will help Small Island Developing States like Seychelles to further their argument on the world stage; that the survival of islands and the human right of their peoples to exist, is at risk if climate change is not decelerated,” said President Michel.
On behalf the Seychellois people, the President also presented his Holiness with an official gift of a painting of the Anse Boileau Church. The gift represents the role that Catholic Church is playing in the heart of Seychellois communities and also the support that the Seychellois state will continue to give to the work of the Catholic Church.
President Michel and his delegation were also received by the His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State to His Holiness.
Seychelles and the Holy See established diplomatic relations in December 1983.