Family and Integration Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP) took part in the general audience with the Pope on Wednesday. Raab presented Francis with handmade souvenirs from the workshop of the St. Elisabeth Foundation of the Archdiocese of Vienna, made by women and single mothers with their children, who are accompanied there in difficult life situations. She also brought gingerbread as a greeting from the Mariazell pilgrimage site.
“It was a great pleasure for me and very impressive to meet Pope Francis in person. The Pope was visibly happy about the gifts from Austria. I sent him best regards from Austria and thanked him for his work for families,” explained the minister in conversation with the APA in Rome.
An exchange also took place in the Vatican with the “Foreign Minister” and Archbishop Paul Gallagher. It dealt with the subject of the worldwide persecution of Christians and in particular with Austria’s help in the construction of a Christian high school in Qaraqosh (Karakosh) in the Nineveh Plains in Iraq. “Education is the key and the foundation for Christian minorities to have a perspective in the countries in which they are persecuted,” explained the minister.
Speaking to Gallagher, Raab highlighted Austria’s efforts to help families deal with price increases and inflation. Raab presented the anti-inflation packages put together by the government in Vienna. If you compare the aid in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), Austria is among the top six EU countries with a total of 2.3 percent of GDP, said Raab. If you look at what countries have achieved per capita so far, Austria is right at the top. Only Luxembourg, with 600,000 inhabitants, spends more per capita in the fight against inflation.
Raab also spoke to Gallagher about the strong migration flows to Austria, including from countries such as Tunisia, Pakistan and India. “The food price increases have a negative impact on access to food in many parts of the world. This is a major challenge not only for the Austrian population,” explained the minister. She emphasized that Austria had financed the Rome-based World Food Program (WFP) with 17 million euros this year. That is almost quadrupling compared to 2020, when 4.45 million euros were transferred.
This contribution is important to prevent irregular migration from third world countries facing food supply problems. The issue of migration was also the focus of Raab’s conversation with the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Laurence Hart.
Raab spoke to the head of the Vatican’s Family Dicastery, Gabriella Gambino, at the Vatican. It was also about the efforts of Pope Francis to heave more women into leadership positions.
Raab had an exchange in Rome with the Italian family minister Elena Bonetti. “Bonetti confirmed to me that price control for families is also a big issue in Italy. Italy has also passed a support package for families. Our governments are doing their best to ensure that families receive support in the multiple crises we are in.” , said the minister.
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