Pope's visit to Marseille: Emmanuel Macron says it is his place "as president"


The announcement of Emmanuel Macron's presence at Pope Francis' mass, which will take place at the end of September in Marseille, has caused controversy around secularism. The president responded this Friday, saying it was his “place.”

On September 23, Pope Francis will celebrate a mass at the Vélodrome stadium in Marseille, which the President of the Republic will attend. This announcement published in the daily La Croix caused ink to flow this week. 

Several deputies from La France insoumise, the leading opposition party on the left, considered that the presence of the president at this mass would be an “error”

“I respect the faith and the faithful. But I disagree with the fact that an elected official and in particular the President of the Republic, participates your qualities at a religious ceremony", was particularly indignant about X (ex-Twitter) MP Alexis Corbière. While his colleague, Bastien Lachaud, declared that the president “makes fun of secularism and tramples on its principles, the separation of Churches and State, the neutrality of the State vis-à-vis religions”.

Questioned this Friday on this subject, Emmanuel Macron said BFM TV that it was his “place” to go to this mass. "I will not go as a Catholic, I will go as president of the French Republic, which is indeed secular. I will go out of respect and courtesy," he added. 

“What is secularism? It is a law of freedom which firstly ensures that religion does not interfere in politics, which is the case and we strictly respect it. The State is neutral. Public services are neutral and we preserve it. Schools too and we reminded them of this at the start of the school year. But society does not erase religion, so everyone can believe or not believe in a religion, a philosophy. That's secularism. And when we receive a head of state who is the pope, who gives a mass at the velodrome stadium, I consider that it is my place to go there. I will not go as Catholic, I will go as President of the French Republic, which is indeed secular. I will go out of respect and courtesy."

He further assured that he would not have “any religious practice during this mass”.

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image credit: Shutterstock/ Frederic Legrand - COMEO

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