Merkel meets pope as parties at home try to form government

By Via AP news wire
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Thursday with Pope Francis and toured a Jesuit-run child protection center, while back home three German parties at home held talks on forming a new government without her center-right bloc.

Merkel told reporters she talked politics, climate change and clergy sex abuse during the visit to the Vatican and a meeting at the Pontifical Gregorian University’s academic program on child protection and safe environments.

She spent some 45 minutes with the pope and received from him a small copy of the bronze Holy Door, as well as copies of his main documents.

Merkel also met with Italian Premier Mario Draghi before attending a peace prayer at the Colosseum organized by the Rome-based Sant’Egidio charity.

Merkel and her outgoing government will stay in office on a caretaker basis until a new administration is in place, a process that could take weeks or months.

On Thursday, the center-left Social Democrats the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats were holding a first round of exploratory talks on forming a possible coalition. If they eventually succeed, that would send Merkel’s center-right Union bloc into opposition after a disastrous showing in Germany’s Sept. 26 election.

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