Vatican Radio reports “Irish rocker and anti-poverty campaigner Bono was back in the Vatican on Friday to thank the Catholic Church for its support of the Drop the Debt campaign a decade ago and to discuss further ways of working together on aid and development.
Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen met up with the lead singer of U2 as he was coming out of a meeting with the president of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Council, Cardinal Peter Turkson….
During an almost hour long meeting the cardinal and the rock star turned activist talked about the huge success of the Jubilee 2000 campaign to free the poorest countries from their burden of foreign debts. Thanks to the success of that popular movement, Bono told me, World Bank figures show that “there are an extra 52 million children going to school” as governments have been able to invest in education instead of debt repayments.
Bono said he was encouraging the cardinal to communicate to ordinary people in the pews the extraordinary impact they’d made by turning out on the streets in support of that campaign. He said the Church deserves “incredible credit for being in the vanguard of that movement.……it was an interfaith movement and it was also what you might call inter-disciplinary because you had priests and nuns walking alongside punk rockers and musicians and sports people and soccer mums… it was a great panoply of characters…..but I just think the Church hasn’t done a good job yet of telling people what they’ve achieved and we were just trying to figure out how best to do that.”
The U2 front man, who met with Pope John Paul II to seek support for his humanitarian work, said he’d “be delighted” to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. During his private audience with the former elderly pontiff, Bono’s famously gave him his blue fly-shades to try on. He also received from the Pope a silver crucifix which he pulled out from under his shirt to show me – I still wear it, he said with a smile. And he still clearly believes very much in the Catholic Church as an important partner in the struggle to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor. Watch this space!
The Vatican Radio site also provides a link to a recording of the meeting.