(ZENIT News / Marseilles, 20.09.2023).- On Saturday, September 23, after the conclusion of the Mediterranean Meetings (the reason for the Pope’s trip to Marseilles), the Holy Father will meet with Emmanuel Macron, the country’s President.
After the meeting, Macron will attend Pope Francis’ Mass in the Velodrome Stadium. His participation — already confirmed — has elicited criticisms in the most secular political realm and in the radical Left. The discussion broke out due to the fact that, recently, the French Government banned the use of some Muslim attire in the country’s schools.
“I consider that it corresponds to me to go. I won’t go as a Catholic; I will go as President of the Republic, which is in fact secular,” said Macron in statements reported by RFI. Among the detractors is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who said on Twitter: “No, Mr President, it doesn’t correspond to you to go to the Pope’s Mass. Greet him on his arrival and also on his departure: yes, of course. But the secular State neither recognizes nor subsidizes any religion.”
Emmanuel Macron has a history of a very close personal relationship with the Pope. As President, he has visited the Vatican three times, the last in April of 2022, the Pope giving him more time than to other Heads of Government. As Radio France recalls: “Baptized at 16, Emmanuel Macron, Assistant of Protestant Paul Ricoeur, advocated five years ago for the Bernardins to repair the link between Church and State.” His separatist law was then very badly received by the sects. “He cannot not be there,” said a Minister to France Inter. And he added: “All the services of adoration, all the officials will be in the Velodrome, it’s much more than a Mass.” A deputy continues: “The controversy will pass quickly.” Emmanuel Macron “should not go to Communion.”
Known in France is a gesture — with a double reading — of Macron to the Pope: the scheduled date to discuss the law in favour of euthanasia in the Council of Ministers was September 21. As the Pope was arriving in Marseilles on the 22nd, it was postponed . . . in fact, to the days immediately following the Pope’s departure.
The Holy Father’s visit to France implies a deployment of some 30,000 police, especially on the day of the Mass, in which 135 anti-disturbance corps are also included.