Macron’s first visit to the Vatican
Last Tuesday, the French president Emmanuel Macron, visited Pope Francis in the Vatican. It was the first meeting of the French head of state with the Pope; their conversation lasted fifty-seven minutes.
During Macron’s visit, the two leaders talked about interreligious dialogue, the French laity, the future of Europe, climate change, and the migration crisis. It was the most extended conversation of the Argentinian Pope with a head of state. In contrast, the Pope’s meeting with Donald Trump lasted only thirty minutes.
The Pope and Macron agreed on the question of migration. Both men are convinced that refugees must be treated with humanity and love.
The purpose of Macron’s visit to the Vatican was to strengthen diplomatic ties between the Catholic Church and France —a nation that enacted a law in favour of same-sex marriage in 2013.
During the visit, the two heads of state exchanged gifts. Macron gave the Roman Pontiff an Italian edition of the book “Diary of a Country Priest” by Georges Bernanos. Pope Francis gave President Macron a medal of Saint Martin, who, according to a legend, lived in the fourth century and shared his cloak with a poor man. Saint Martin is an example of generosity and compassion. Handing the present to Mr Macron, Pope Francis said: “It is the vocation of all governments to protect the poor… e tutti siamo poveri” (and we are all poor).
Another symbolic move by the French president was accepting his role as “First and Only Honorary Canon” of the basilica of Saint John of Lateran. According to tradition, the French head of state is the only person that can receive this title. This tradition started with Henry the Fourth, but Macron’s predecessor, socialist Francois Hollande broke this custom.
The French president left the Vatican in high spirits. Step by step, France is returning to the Catholic Church.