NZ Governor General to make first state visit to the Vatican

New Zealand Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae will be visiting Pope Francis at the Vatican by the middle of May.

While the official announcement is yet to be made,this could be the very first state visit made by a New Zealand governor general to the Pope.The governor general’s office said they had “consulted historian Gavin McLean and as far as we can ascertain, no governor-general has ever met the pope [in Rome]”.

Massey University Professor of History Peter Lineham, an expert in New Zealand religious history, said the visit reflects respect for the Vatican’s role in international diplomacy.

He said the role that the Vatican has taken in a number of international issues, particularly in trying to bring about an end in civil strife in Syria and Lebanon, has been increasingly recognised.

“I think it’s a mark of respect of the diplomacy of the Vatican as well as a normal courtesy of the head of state to meet another head of state,” he said.

Mr McLean is a senior historian with the History Group of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and author of Governors: New Zealand’s Governors and Governors-General (2006).


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