SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras called for closer ties between the European Left and the Christian Church on Thursday during a landmark meeting at the Vatican with Pope Francis.
“We come from different ideological starting points but we believe that we intersect on common values such as solidarity, love for one’s fellow human being, social justice and our anxiousness for world peace,” the leftist leader said following a brief unofficial meeting with the Catholic pontiff.
Tsipras took the opportunity to brief the pope on the repercussions of Greece’s economic crisis, noting that painful measures imposed by successive governments had been undertaken “to save the banks.”
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi downplayed the meeting between the pope and Tsipras as “private” and of no “political significance,” noting that the conversation focused on “human and social issues,” according to German news agency DPA.
Tsipras was accompanied on his visit by former Austrian Communist Party leader Walter Beier, who, according to DPA, quoted the pope as saying, “It is scandalous that saving banks is more important than saving people.”