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Transcript of doorstop interview: Vatican City: 9 July 2009: economy; Interfaith Dialogue; Mary Mackillop; climate change.

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Doorstop interview Vatican City 9 July 2009 Subject(s): Economy, Interfaith Dialogue, Mary MacKillop, climate change


PM: Well I have just had the opportunity for a good discussion with the Holy Father and we covered a range of areas of interest to himself and of course of interest to the Australian people. The Holy Father remembers well, his visit to Australia and to World Youth Day and indicated how much he had enjoyed his time in Australia.

Beyond that, we also discussed the whole challenge of interfaith dialogue. I emphasised to the Holy Father the work that we would be doing ourselves in our region with interfaith dialogue, building on agreements we have already reached with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia.

I also mentioned to the Holy Father that I had spoken to President Yudhoyono this morning, in relation to the outcomes of the Indonesian election. And I look forward to interfaith dialogue work with President Yudhoyono in the period ahead.

Also late this year in Australia we will be convening the World Parliament of Religions and this will be an important step forward in overall understanding and tolerance between different religious traditions.

We also spoke about the whole challenge of religious freedom as well. We spent some time also speaking about climate change. In fact the Holy Father was following closely events in L’Aquila and the importance of

climate change for the future.

We exchanged our views on that, as I did subsequently with the Cardinal’s Secretary of State on climate change as well. I think it is the view of the Holy See, though the Holy See should speak for itself that all leaders of the world right now carry a great responsibility to forge an agreement on this critical area of climate change, given that we have such a short period of time to go between now and Copenhagen. The

discussions on climate change went for some time.

Of course, we also discussed the Blessed Mary MacKillop and the Holy Father remembers well his visit to Mary MacKillop’s tomb in Sydney. I mentioned to the Holy Father that of course the process of canonisation was one entirely internal to the catholic church, but in Australia, from the Catholic community and beyond the Catholic community, there was a great deal of affection and respect for May MacKillop as a strong woman, a strong leader, a strong worker for the poor, a pioneer in education and in fact, some of her education models were adopted subsequently by various state education systems around the country.

It was, and I indicated further that the good sisters of St Josephs were very excited about the process which is currently under way and asked me to convey that to him. I think I will leave it there and of course Ambassador Fisher was with me for the discussion that we had with the Cardinal Secretary of State. Over to you folks.

JOURNALIST: I believe you may have also discussed the (inaudible) the Pope’s Encyclical. How do you -

PM: We discussed a few other things as well I just didn’t want to give you a complete sort of menu.

JOURNALIST: How do you enmesh his views of a kinder more balanced world with the sort of political realignment that you say must happen particularly in the financial (inaudible)

PM: My own personal view, having read the summary of the Pope’s Encyclical is that it is a very good document and it is worthy of serious consideration by leaders around the world. My own view, is that what we need to do with the future regulation of financial markets, and more broadly the regulation of markets at large, is to make sure we always have this balance between the efficiency of markets on the one hand, and the impact of the operation of markets on human beings on the other.

That I think, (inaudible) essence of what the Pope’s encyclical was saying, although the Encyclical and the Holy Father of course speak for themselves.

So the challenge I think as we craft new rules for the global financial system is to get this, and the global economic system, is to get this balance right - so markets are inherently efficient and dynamic and creating great wealth, but at the same time we must have systems which

properly protect people. And remember the end point of all of our work in politics is to build better lives for human beings, not simply a materialist endpoint in itself.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what was the Pontiff’s reaction when you raised the issue of (inaudible)

PM: I think the best characterisation, but I would much rather the Holy See spoke for itself on these questions, was, the Holy Father’s great interest in this extraordinary woman’s life. And we did discuss her life for some time and it is obviously a visit to the tomb in Sydney has left a big impression on the Holy Father.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, yesterday, Sepp Blatter asked you to pass on his regards, I wonder whether the Pontiff put his blessings on our world cup bid?

PM: That is a very very, shall I say, acute question. And it would be wrong of me to answer in the affirmative.

I did indicate however that the President of FIFA had passed on regards to the Holy Father.

JOURNALIST: The Pope didn’t say either way whether he was supportive of our bid or not?

PM: We then spoke about the important role of sport and the world game, as a propagation of healthy pursuits of young people around the world. That is where the conversation went but I did take the occasion to mention Mr Blatter and FIFA’s keen interest in the game and what could

be done to support young people around the world.

Better run, got to go to L’Aquila.