Tim's Farewell to Pope

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Tim's Farewell to Pope

Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer, has allocated most of the first fortnight of January to packing up in Rome at the end of his posting. Late last year, just before Christmas, the Ambassador made his farewell call on Pope Benedict XVI and will continue with farewell calls and meetings right up until his departure from Rome on 20 January.

Mr Fischer is due back on Australia Day 2012 after a brief working visit to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan to assist with an inter-Governmental dialogue.

On Friday afternoon 23 December, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Tim Fischer made his formal farewell call on Pope Benedict XVI in the Papal Palace, in Vatican City. Mr Fischer was accompanied for the brief meeting by his wife Judy and sons Harrison and Dominic.

"I took a calculated risk and gave the Pope a key book "The Coming Famine - The Global Food Crisis and what we can do to avoid it" by Julian Cribb. The gesture was signalled ahead and the Pope carefully read out the full title in English and agreed agriculture revitalisation was important." Mr Fischer said.

"Food Security is one of the priorities the Australian Government has instructed me publicly to pursue and the Pope has previously spoken of the need to revitalize and re-evaluate agriculture, in his words 'not for nostalgic reasons but as an indispensible resource for the future'.

"I also mentioned briefly also Bethlehem University, which is sponsored by the Vatican and the nearby "Tent of Nations" farm, and its attempts to revamp agriculture in their area of the West Bank. I thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his interest in Australia and his recent formal opening and blessing of Domus Australia, near Termini Station in Rome."

Mr Fischer said he did not mention the Vatican Railway once in the Papal Audience, although the Vatican railway has had a record year, including with the Caritas Express Steam Train in May 2011. Mr Fischer added that he is due to return to Australia on Australia Day 2012 (departing the employ of DFAT on the 27th January 2012) after three unexpected, eventful, interesting and uplifting years.