Emmanuel Macron was received Monday by Pope Francis at the Vatican, for the third time since he became president, against a backdrop of war in Ukraine and debate on the end of life in France.
The French head of state, accompanied by his wife Brigitte Macron, arrived at the Apostolic Palace which adjoins St. Peter's Basilica in Rome for a private audience.
The tete-a-tete with the sovereign pontiff was to be followed by an interview with the number two of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, as well as with the pope's "minister" of foreign affairs, Bishop Paul Gallagher.
This is his third papal audience: the first in June 2018, while the second dates back to less than a year ago, in November 2021.
President Macron has been in Rome since Sunday where he delivered a speech at the opening of an interreligious peace summit organized by the Italian Catholic community Sant'Egidio.
He delivered a plea for peace in Ukraine, while emphasizing that this could only happen when the Ukrainians "decide" and according to the "terms" of kyiv.
On the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis has not ceased to condemn the conflict since February, while trying to maintain a diplomatic dialogue with Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church, very aligned with the positions of the Kremlin.
Emmanuel Macron also called on religions, in his speech on Sunday, to their "duty of resistance" against "the drive for purity" and the return of the "great fears" that agitate Western societies.
According to the Elysée, the interview should also focus on social debates in France, such as the reception of refugees and perhaps the end of life.
The pope spoke out against euthanasia on Friday during a speech in front of French elected officials, at the very moment when Paris is preparing to launch a citizens' convention on this delicate question to lead to a possible change in the law.
The French president met on the sly on Sunday evening with the new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, becoming the first foreign leader to meet face-to-face with the leader of the post-fascist party Fratelli d'Italia, winner of the elections in September in Italy.
He is due to see the Italian head of state Sergio Mattarella on Monday at a private lunch.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)