Pope Francis thanked former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for his visit to the Vatican on Thursday and expressed his satisfaction at being able to see him “walking down the street” after his release from prison in November.
“I thank you for your gesture of coming, I thank you very much, and I am glad to see you walking down the street,” the Argentine pontiff said in Spanish, to which Lula da Silva responded with a “thank you,” as you hear in a video released today by the ex-president on Twitter.
The two met for the first time on Thursday at the residence of the pope, Casa Santa Marta, in the Vatican, in an hour-long meeting in which they addressed issues such as inequalities, the fight against hunger or the environment.
In the recording, Lula tells the Pope that he went to the Vatican to “thank and talk a little about the issue of inequalities”, but also about social conquests and environmental care, and valued his appeals “in a delicate moment” .
In Lula da Silva’s opinion, “we have many people against us who don’t care about the poor.”
Lula da Silva made his first trip abroad after his release from prison in November after the Brazilian justice agreed to postpone a pending interrogation on February 19.
The meeting with the pope was produced by the intermediation of Argentine President Alberto Fernández, who visited the Vatican on January 31, according to the Brazilian Workers Party, the formation that Lula founded and led.
The former Brazilian president gave the pope a photograph of an indigenous from the Amazon, a region to which the pope dedicated the last Synod of Bishops and his last apostolic exhortation, and he presented Lula with a blessed rosary.
Among other things, the former Brazilian president wanted to thank Francisco “for his solidarity” when he went through “a difficult time” in prison, since the Pope responded last May to a letter from him to express his closeness and encourage him.
Lula, who spent 580 days in prison and is on probation, is convicted in two proceedings for corruption and has at least seven other investigations against him.
The Brazilian ex-president was sentenced in third instance to eight years and ten months for passive corruption and money laundering, after being found guilty of receiving an apartment in the São Paulo spa of Guarujá in exchange for political favors to the OAS construction company.
The process must still be analyzed by the highest Court of the country, last possible instance.
The other penalty that weighs on Lula is 17 years and one month in jail in a very similar case and already confirmed in the second instance.