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Ex-Brazilian leader da Silva meets the pope, gets blessing

VATICAN CITY — Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met Thursday with Pope Francis at the Vatican, received a papal blessing and said the two discussed prospects for a “more just and fraternal world.”

Da Silva posted photos of the encounter on his Twitter and Facebook accounts with a brief comment about the content of their meeting. The Vatican had no comment and didn’t even list the audience, which lasted an hour, on Francis’ official agenda Thursday.

Da Silva was released from prison in early November after 19 months in detention, when Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals have been exhausted. Later that month, a court upheld the corruption conviction and ruled his sentence should be raised by four years to 17 years.

Da Silva, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010, denies wrongdoing and says the corruption charges against him are politically motivated.

Francis, the first pope from the global south, has had close ties to leftist Latin American leaders, including Da Silva and former Bolivian President Evo Morales, who resigned the presidency in November after allegations of fraud in Bolivia’s Oct. 20 presidential election.

The audience came a day after Francis released his major document on the Amazon.

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