Vatican: Pope Francis Photo with Sahrawi Children Not Political Statement

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Rabat- The Vatican has said that the Pope’s welcoming of Sahrawi children had no political meaning, contrary to Polisario’s speculations.

A photo taken in the Vatican in Rome of Pope Francis in a peaceful gathering with Sahrawi children from the disputed region of Western Sahara has caused controversy between political factions.

The Polisario-backed news site sprasd.info claimed: “Pope Francis received Sahrawi children in the Vatican in Rome, in presence of Polisario Front’s representative in Italy. Sahrawi children received by Pope Francis were wearing traditional clothes and carrying Sahrawi flags.”

Responding to Polisario’s reports, the Vatican’s representative in Morocco, Archbishop Vito Rallo, clarified in a statement to the state-owned news agency, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), on Saturday August 11:  “The Holy See’s position on the Sahara conflict has not changed.”

He continued, “The weekly audiences that the Holy Father gives to pilgrims around the world are of a purely pastoral nature. [They] have no political connotations.”

Taking advantage of the photo showing Pope Francis surrounded by a number of Sahrawi children, the Polisario Front took to its media platforms to suggest that the Vatican supports their separatist movement.