Invited by the Women of Faith Network in Italy, Gandhi addressed government officials, the religious community and people from the Vatican.Scheduled to return to South Africa on the same day, Gandhi said she went to Saint Peter’s Basilica, where thousands of people gather every Wednesday to see the pope.
“We arranged to go there on Wednesday morning, but somebody who had come to the meeting had tickets for us and we were then invited into the Vatican hall, instead of standing outside with the public,” she said.
Describing the inside of the hall, Gandhi said there were many rows of people, with some suffering from disabilities and sickness and a row of newly-weds who were blessed.
She said as they were standing on the other side of the hall as observers, the pope asked her to come forward to meet him.
“I felt good that I was able to see him, but when he called for me, shook my hand and blessed me it was really wonderful. I felt very privileged that he called and I had the opportunity to shake his hand,” said Gandhi.
She said the pope was a wonderful, humble person. Since the pope was elected, Gandhi said, she had followed his life story and was particularly interested in the kinds of things that he has done.
Gandhi said she also saw a place where the homeless came for food and shelter, which tied into the pope’s idea of solidarity with people and appealing to people’s consciences.
“If you have surplus, share it with the community and make sure that other people also have better lives. So his whole idea of solidarity is exactly what Gandhi stood for, and I’ve admired him, and it was wonderful to meet him,” she said.