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Pope Francis, former President Clinton to have ‘special conversation’ at foundation meeting

Former President Bill Clinton and Pope Francis. / Credit: Vatican Dicastery for Communication

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 14, 2023 / 09:56 am (CNA).

Pope Francis and former President Bill Clinton will discuss pressing issues facing the world next week at the annual meeting of the Clinton Foundation’s global humanitarian effort, the Clinton Foundation revealed on Thursday. 

The foundation said in a press release that the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2023 meeting would open on Monday, Sept. 18, with “a special conversation between President Clinton and His Holiness Pope Francis” via remote link.

The discussion is expected to focus on “what it takes to keep going on the most pressing global challenges of our time,” the release said, including “climate change, the refugee crisis, the welfare of children, and the mission and projects of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital.”

Bambino Gesù is a Vatican-owned pediatric hospital located in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the Holy See. Pope Francis has visited the hospital several times and spoken warmly of it, calling it a “family” that offers “human witness” through its medical services.

The hospital said in its press release on Thursday that representatives of the facility would also be “tak[ing] part” in the symposium. The hospital said it requires “great financial support” to run its medical undertakings; it said it would “bring these needs to the attention of the international audience” at the initiative meeting.

Francis already met with Bill Clinton earlier this year at the Casa Santa Marta papal residence, though details of that meeting have not been released.

Two years ago Chelsea Clinton — the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation — appeared at a virtual Vatican symposium on health.

On its website, the Clinton Foundation touts its global initiative as “creating a community of doers who are taking action on the world’s most pressing challenges, together.”

Among the other guests at the symposium next week will be U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

The Clinton Foundation says the Global Initiative has helped “more than 9,000 organizations [launch] more than 3,900 Commitments to Action,” which it described as “new, specific, and measurable projects and programs.”

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