The leader of the Greek main opposition party SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, will travel tomorrow to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis.
The meeting, requested by Tsipras, is scheduled to take place in the Pope’s office at 10:00 am. Talking points include social justice, unemployment, immigration and the Mideast crisis, according to SYRIZA, an acronym for “Coalition of the Radical Left.”
Tsipras, who has said in the past he is not a religious person, chose to spend two days at the monastic community on Mount Athos in northern Greece this past August, setting off a spate of speculation. Commentators saw the visit as an attempt to improve the party’s image and repair its relationship with the Greek Orthodox church. His overture to Pope Francis seems to bear a similar tone.
Tsipras will be the first European leader of a left-wing party to meet the head of the Roman Catholic church.
A statement released by SYRIZA called tomorrow’s meeting “historic,” noting that the encounter “has a unique political significance for the radical Left and for Greece itself.”
SYRIZA said that this meeting–the first between the Pope and a European leader of the Left and a Greek political leader–signals a new phase for the European Left and international recognition for SYRIZA.
Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to Constantinople in late November for a meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I. The meeting is set to coincide with the Patronal Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle on November 30.