OREANDA-NEWS Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Saturday he used his meeting with Pope Francis to invite him to Croatia because that would mean a lot to the Croatian people, adding that his impression was that the visit would take place and that he would like it to be in the context of the canonisation of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac.

Speaking to Croatian reporters covering his visit to the Vatican, Plenkovic said the pope's visit to Croatia "would mean a lot to the Croatian people, to everyone who appreciates him, who expects his visit... It's up to him to choose the most appropriate time for such a visit."

Plenkovic said he was pleased with today's audience with the pope and meeting with the Holy See Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, adding that they discussed everything of importance in Vatican-Croatia relations.

He said they also talked about Stepinac's canonisation. "My impression is the process is going well... in the right direction. I'd like Pope Francis's visit to be also in that context."

The pope also received Plenkovic's family and the rest of the Croatian delegation. Plenkovic gave him a bronze statue of St. Joseph with Jesus. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Croatian people under a June 1687 decision of the Croatian parliament.

Pope Francis presented Plenkovic with an olive branch sculpture.