In a carefully-worded statement which regional analysts say is clear in its intent, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics has urged the President of Sudan towards positive action in resolving the Darfur crisis, which has killed many thousands and displaced millions.
What the vatican described as "an historic meeting" took place between Pope Benedict and Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir at the end of last week.
In an official statement, the Vatican said: "Omar Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan, was received in audience by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in his summer residence at Castelgandolfo. The president subsequently went on to meet Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States and, until last year, apostolic nuncio in Khartoum."
It added: "Discussions focussed on the country's political and religious situation, with particular reference to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to the situation in Darfur. On this matter, very positive views were expressed concerning fresh peace negotiations for Darfur, due to be held on 27 October in Libya."
'It is the Holy See's heartfelt hope that these negotiations prove successful in order to put an end to the suffering and insecurity of those peoples, ensuring them the humanitarian assistance to which they have the right, and initiating development projects. Attention also turned to the regional aspects of the crisis."
The statement concluded: "Other subjects of joint interest were considered, such as the defense of life and of the family, the respect and promotion of human rights including the fundamental right of religious freedom, the importance of inter-religious dialogue and of collaboration between believers in all religions - in particular Christians and Muslims - for the promotion of peace and the common good."