(Reuters) – Chilean President Sebastian Pinera will meet Pope Francis in Rome later this month during a tour of Europe, as the Roman Catholic Church in Chile faces a crisis over claims of sexual abuse and cover-ups.
A spokesman for Pinera said he will meet the pontiff at the Vatican during a tour of France, Spain, Germany and Belgium that begins on Friday. A Vatican spokesman confirmed the meeting would take place on Saturday morning.
The spokesman for Pinera declined to discuss who had requested the meeting or what would be discussed but said the president would visit Italy only for the purpose of seeing the pope.
Pinera, a Catholic who presides over a right-wing party with traditionally close ties to the Church, has remained largely silent on Chile’s abuse crisis. His uncle is Bernardino Pinera, 102, a retired cleric who is the oldest living Catholic bishop.