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Pope calls for rebirth of Rome during visit to mayor

Rome is an open, multicultural city, mayor Virginia Raggi tells pontiff.

Pope Francis called on Rome city councillors to seek to bring about the "moral and spiritual rebirth" of the capital, during his visit to city hall on 26 March.

Francis, who is the bishop of Rome, warned: "Rome is a delicate organism, which needs humble, constant care and creative courage to keep it tidy and liveable, so that all this splendour does not decline."

The pontiff also stressed the importance of Rome's role as a welcoming city which must be shared with "everyone, near and far, regardless of which people they belong to, whichever language they speak and whatever colour of their skin.”

Addressing the pontiff, mayor Virginia Raggi said that Rome is "an open city, a city of multilateralism and multiculturalism" which hosts "diplomatic representatives from all over the world with whom a relationship of dialogue and exchange is constant."

Raggi also described Rome as a "city of solidarity, thanks to the activity of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of associations, religious and lay, such as Caritas with which for decades we have been working, side by side, in support of the weakest."

Pope Francis described the Campidoglio - seat of city hall and the Capitoline Museums - as the "cradle of Rome and the beating heart of its administrative and civil life."

In addition to addressing city councillors in the Giulio Cesare hall, the pope held a private meeting with Raggi before meeting municipal employees whom he described as the "backbone" of the city.

Francis became the fourth pontiff in modern times to visit Rome's city hall.

On 16 April 1966 Pope Paul VI was the guest of then mayor Amerigo Petrucci; on 15 January 1998 St John Paul II visited as a guest of Francesco Rutelli; and on 9 March 2009 Pope Benedict XVI was the guest of Gianni Alemanno.

Photo Gregorio Borgia/AP

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Pope calls for rebirth of Rome during visit to mayor

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