Pope Benedict XVI has handed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a letter, listing concerns about the Catholic Church's situation in the South American nation.
The meeting lasted for about 35 minutes
The letter was presented during a meeting between the Pope and Mr Chavez at the Vatican.
It asserted the Church's right to appoint bishops in Venezuela, a Vatican spokesman said.
It also raised fears that religious education was being squeezed out of some of Venezuela's schools.
The letter also referred to public health programmes launched by Venezuela's president, since he came to office in 1999.
Mr Chavez has maintained an uneasy relationship with Venezuela's Catholic Church leaders, describing the local church hierarchy as a "cancer".
During the talks, however, he had assured the Pope that he was keen to overcome the current differences, the Vatican spokesman said.
In his turn, Mr Chavez presented the Pope with a portrait of the 19th century South American independence leader Simon Bolivar.
The picture had an inscription from Bolivar's will, saying that he remained, after all, a Roman Catholic.