By: Mark Leon Goldberg on April 09, 2013 The Secretary General paid an official visit to the Holy See. According to a writeup from the UN News Center: “We discussed the need to advance social justice and accelerate work to meet the Millennium Development Goals. This is vital if we are to meet the millennium promise for the world’s poorest,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Rome after his first meeting with Pope Francis. “It was an uplifting, hopeful meeting. Pope Francis is a man of peace and purpose. He is a voice for the voiceless.” Mr. Ban said he was greatly honoured to have an audience with the newly elected Pope, and said that His Holiness’ choice of name – after Saint Francis of Assisi – was a powerful message for the many goals and principles shared by the United Nations. “It speaks loudly of his commitment to the poor, his deep sense of humility, his passion and compassion to improve the human condition,” Mr. Ban said. “I was especially privileged to meet Pope Francis as we mark 1,000 days to the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals.” There are over 1 billion Catholics in the world. Recent data from the Church suggests that Catholicism is growing fastest in sub-Saharan Africa compared to other regions of the world. It is also the one region in which the MDGs are struggling the most. Having the titular head of the Catholic Church give this strong an endorsement of the MDGs–and of the UN’s development agenda more broadly — is a very big help to the cause.