Panama’s geographical position as a bridge between land and ocean is symbolic of its ability to broker peace and hope in an area marked by violence and conflict, Pope Francis said.
In his first official speech in the Central American country on 24th January, the pope said Panama’s privileged location makes it “a strategic enclave not only for the region but also for the entire world.”
“A bridge between oceans and a natural land of encounter, Panama, the narrowest country of the entire American continent, is the symbol of the sustainability born of the ability to create bonds and alliances,” he said at meeting with the country’s government authorities and diplomats at Bolivar Palace. “This capacity shapes the heart of the Panamanian people.”
The pope began his first day in Panama with a visit to the presidential palace, Palacia de las Garzas. After greeting hundreds of pilgrims gathered outside from the palace balcony, the pope went inside for a private meeting with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela.
Anticipation grew as hundreds of members of the Panamanian government and diplomatic corps gathered in the indoor courtyard of the palace.
Picture: Pope Francis is pictured with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and first lady Lorena Castillo during a welcoming ceremony at Palacio de las Garzas in Panama City on 24th January 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).