Trento, April 11 - The Dalai Lama said Thursday he hoped to meet Pope Francis soon, reiterating he was an admirer of the first Latin American pontiff. "Our meeting has only been postponed," said the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who was gearing to meet Francis after his current trip to the northern Italian region of Alto Adige to receive a special prize for his efforts to defend the Tibetan minority in China. "On this trip I asked if there would be a chance to meet Pope Francis but it wasn't possible because of his hectic schedule," the Lama told reporters. On March 15, two days after the pope was elected, the Dalai Lama said he was "touched" by former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's decision to pick the name of humble, Nature-loving monk St Francis of Assisi. Since his election Francis has already established a reputation for snubbing the pomp of office and reaching out to the marginalised and other religions, as seen in a recent pre-Easter ritual when he washed and kissed the feet of 12 juvenile detention centre inmates including a Muslim girl. The Lama said he was "no expert on Catholic saints" but had been to Assisi several times for inter-religious gatherings and was well acquainted with the story of St Francis. "His discipline, the simplicity of his life and his love for all creatures are qualities which I find highly inspiring. "I am really touched to know that is the name chosen by the Pope," he said on his website. "I hope I will soon have the honour to meet Francis as I did his predecessors Benedict and John Paul II, with whom I had friendly conversations over the last 40 years or so," added the Lama, who has been living in exile in India since a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
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di Giovanni Pastore