After meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican on Saturday, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan disclosed that the Pope had promised to visit Nigeria as he is interested keenly in our country.
The Pope also assured he would continue prayng for God Almighty to bless Nigeria and its people.
Mr. Jonathan had conferred with Pope Francis on the promotion of inter-faith dialogue in Nigeria and other parts of the world to foster greater global peace and security.
The President assured the Pope of his administration's continued commitment to the promotion of religious harmony and the peaceful co-existence of people of all faiths. Jonathan said that his administration was already working in close collaboration with Cardinal John Onaiyekan who was 'the team leader' for the effort to strengthen inter-faith dialogue in Nigeria. He vowed to continue working diligently to alleviate poverty in Nigeria through more inclusive economic growth and development.
"My coming to see the Pope was to discuss issues, especially that of inter-faith dialogue which the Vatican has been promoting. Also. the Pope has been advocating that the world should do more to eradicate poverty and make sure that the ordinary people of this world are in a position to live more decent lives. The Pope is very dedicated to poverty alleviation, and I also interfaced with him on how we can collaborate more with the Vatican on what we are already doing in this regard back home," the President said.
After his private meeting with President Jonathan, Pope Francis received the First Lady, Patience Jonathan; the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri; Akwa Ibom State governor Godswill Akpabio and his spouse; Benue State governor Gabriel Suswam; former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi and his spouse; the wife of the Senate President, Helen Mark, and other members of the President's entourage.
Others present at the enlarged audience with the Pope included Nigeria's Ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Okeke; the Chaplain of the Presidential Villa, Obioma Onwuzurumba, and Mike Oghiadomhe.
Before leaving the Vatican, President Jonathan also conferred with the Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin.
He had received Nigeria's Vatican-based Cardinal Francis Arinze earlier on the same day at the St. Regis Hotel in Rome.
Also, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission, Mr. John Kennedy-Opara, who was part of the President's delegation, told journalists that Jonathan used the opportunity of the papal audience to explain Nigeria's position on same-sex marriage to the Pope.
Jonathan had on January 7, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 into law despite opposition from some Western countries.
Kennedy-Opara also said the Pope commended the President for the efforts being made by the Federal Government to tackle the mirage of challenges facing the country.