Exclusive: Prime Minister To Meet Pope Francis 'Sooner Rather Than Later'

Pope Francis leads the weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican January 18, 2017.Reuters

Theresa May is planning to meet Pope Francis in the coming weeks, Christian Today has learned.

The Prime Minister is likely to discuss a range of issues with the Pope in Rome, including human trafficking.

No date has yet been set for the meeting. But according to well placed sources, it will be "sooner rather than later".

May, a practising Anglican, enjoys relatively close relations with the Catholic Church.

She attended a Vatican conference on human trafficking in May 2014, when she was Home Secretary, with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. May met the Pope on that occasion and they are said to have had a "warm" discussion.

Cardinal Nichols wrote to her when she became prime minister in July last year, saying: "I thank you for the remarkable work you have accomplished for the victims of human trafficking...demonstrated through your presence at its first meeting in Rome. This is a clear indication...of your determination to use high political office for the protection of some of the world's most vulnerable people..."

The following month, May wrote an article emphasising that tackling modern slavery was a key priority of her premiership in the Sunday Telegraph.

Asked about the planned visit, Downing Street neither confirmed nor denied it, telling Christian Today: "If that were true, it would be confirmed closer to the date."

Last year, May appointed a special adviser on faith, Jonathan Hellewell, to work in Downing Street.

David Cameron, May's predecessor as prime minister, did not meet with Pope Francis, who was elected on March 13, 2013.