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Mr. President, dear Parlamentarians, 

Welcoming your request, I am happy to receive you this morning, members of the senate and national assembly of the French Republic. The different political sensibilities that you represent aside, your presence manifests the quality of the relations between your country and the Holy See.

This meeting is for me the occasion to underscore the relations of trust that generally exist in France between the leaders of public life and the leaders of the Catholic Church, whether at the national level, the regional or the local. The principle of secularity that governs the relations between the French state and the different religious confessions need not in itself mean hostility to religion or an exclusion of religions from the public square and the debates that animate it. We can rejoice in the fact that the proposals of the Church are among those that are valued in French society, in particular the Church’s vision of the human person and his dignity in view of the common good. The Church thus desires to offer her own specific contribution to the profound questions that require a more complete vision of the person and his destiny and of society and its destiny. This contribution situates itself not only in the anthropological and social sphere but also in the political, economic and cultural spheres.

Insofar as you are elected by a nation toward which the eyes of the world often turn, it is your duty, I hold, it is your duty to contribute in a constant and effective way toward the improvement of the life of your fellow citizens, whom you know especially through the many local contacts that you cultivate that make you sensitive to their needs. Your work is certainly technical and juridical and consists in proposing laws, in amending them and also in abrogating them. But it is necessary too to infuse in them a supplement, a spirit, a soul, I would say, that reflects not only the fashions and ideas of the moment, but confers on them an indispensable quality that elevates and ennobles the human person.

I formulate, thus, for you my warmest encouragement in undertaking your mission, always seeking the good of the person and promoting fraternity in your country. May God bless you.

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]