Humanist head of state finds common ground with Pope

The Santiago Times reports that Chilian President Michelle Bachelet met with Pope Benedict XVI while on a state visit to Italy.

Bachelet, a self-declared agnostic and divorced mother of three, had clashed with the Catholic Church earlier this year when she approved a law that allows girls over the age of 14 to get the “morning-after pill” free, without parental consent.

But the president of Chile  – which is 89 per cent Roman Catholic – took the opportunity to play up areas of common ground.

“We agree with the Pope on many values, such as the defense of the family, which plays an important role,” said Bachelet.

The president said she found tremendous agreement between the ideas of the Pontificate and those supported by her government.

“I am deeply humanist, and so the Pope and I discussed how I, as a secular humanist, have a profound synergy and closeness with the Christian and Catholic humanists that are within the coalition or in our society,” said Bachelet.

She added that in this area she also agreed with the Pope that what are truly important are the values behind the beliefs. For these reasons, Bachelet said, “the relationship with the Catholic Church in Chile and of course here in the Vatican is excellent, it’s fluid and it has sufficient trust to bring up all the topics each side requires.”

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