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On March 20, representatives of SGI-Italy were invited by the Vatican to join an audience with the newly installed Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, at an official meeting with representatives of other world religions. In a short speech, the Pope stressed his wish to continue the tradition of involvement in ecumenical dialogue established by his predecessors, and he then greeted those present. Pope Francis was accompanied by the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot.
SGI-Italy women's division leader Mrs. Asa Nakajima had a brief conversation with Pope Francis, bringing greetings from the members of SGI-Italy along with some gifts. He commented on the "juzu" beads as a symbol of prayer as the basis of faith. Enzo Cursio of the Department of External Relations of SGI-Italy also joined the meeting, which was held at the Sala Clementina, in the wing of the private apartments of the Pope.
Among the representatives of the world's religions who participated were Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church; Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Rome; Abdellah Redouane, Secretary-General of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy; Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, a leader of the Sikh community from Birmingham, UK; and Swami Jeevanmukta Ganapati, President of Siddha Shiva International, Belgium.
The audience came at the end of the inauguration ceremonies of Pope Francis. SGI-Italy representatives also attended the enthronement ceremony on March 19 in St. Peter's Square. This event was attended by 80 Heads of State and Government and 132 government delegations from all over the world.
[Adapted from an article from SGI-Italy website]
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