The Vatican has stressed Pope Francis’s commitment to press freedom before a meeting between the pontiff and the Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat.
The private meeting is due to go ahead despite calls in Malta for the pope to cancel it amid a political crisis triggered by the murder of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A spokesperson for the Vatican said the content of private meetings was not usually disclosed, but added: “Recently [in May] during the meeting with the Italian Foreign Press Association, the Holy Father reiterated his absolute commitment to the freedom of the press, remembering the many journalists who have paid for it with their lives.”
Muscat, who announced on Sunday he would step down in January after weeks of protests, arrived in Rome on Friday to attend the Mediterranean Dialogues conference. Vanessa Frazier, Malta’s ambassador to Italy, confirmed the private meeting would go ahead as planned on Saturday morning.