E. German Leader and Pope Meet for First Time
East German leader Erich Honecker was received by Pope John Paul II on Wednesday in the first meeting between a pontiff and a leader of the Communist German state since its creation 36 years ago.
The Pope greeted Honecker by saying “good day” in German before leading him into his study for a 32-minute audience conducted without an interpreter. As is customary, the Vatican released no details of the meeting.
Honecker arrived in Italy on Tuesday for a two-day visit, his first to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization country. He also met with Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi.
Although the Vatican has no diplomatic ties with East Germany, relations are relatively good. About 1.5 million of the 17 million East Germans are Roman Catholics.