By Linda Bordoni
An hour-long meeting on Friday morning in the Apostolic Palace between Pope Francis and French President, Emmanuel Macron, provided the occasion for a reflection on international issues including climate change and the situation in the Middle East.
A statement released by the Holy See Press Office said President Macron also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
During the talks at the Secretariat of State, described by the statement as cordial, the existing good bilateral relations were emphasized between France and the Holy See, the centenary of which was recently celebrated, were discussed.
Macron arrived at the Vatican just after 11 am after his meeting with Italian Premiere, Mario Draghi, at the Quirinal Palace in Rome where a bilateral treaty was signed to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
During the course of the audience with the Pope, the Press Office statement said a number of international issues were discussed, including environmental protection in the light of the outcome of the recent COP26 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.
There was also an exchange of views on the prospects for the forthcoming French Presidency of the European Union, as well as France’s commitment in Lebanon, the Middle East and Africa.
Exchange of gifts
As is customary gifts were exchanged. Macron brought two biographies of St. Ignatius of Loyola for the Pope: the first a rare 1585 edition written by Pietro Maffei; the second a work by Francois Sureau, a member of the French Academy that pays a contemporary tribute to the Basque saint.
The Pope’s gift consisted in a painting on ceramic that represents St. Peter’s Basilica from the Vatican gardens’ perspective, as well as some documents pertaining to the pontificate, including the 2021 Message for the World Day for Peace and the Document on Human Fraternity.
Past contacts and meetings
There have been a number of contacts between Pope Francis and Emmanuel Macron since the beginning of his presidency. The Holy Father had telephoned the President to express his sorrow for the attack on the Cathedral in Nice on 30 October 2020 in which three people were killed; the last telephone call between the two leaders took place in March 2021 after the Pope’s visit to Iraq, described by Macron as “a turning point” for the Middle East.
Friday’s was the second time the French President had been received in the Vatican by the Pope after the audience that took place on 26 June 2018. During that meeting the issue of major concern was the situation of refugees and migrants.