French President François Hollande will be received by Pope Francis in private audience on January 24th, according to French media reports.
Mr. Hollande will be making his first visit to the Vatican, despite travelling to Rome four times since his election in Mary 2012, the French news agency I.MEDIA reported Jan. 8.
The Vatican has yet to confirm the meeting as preparations are reportedly still in progress and the composition of the presidential delegation must still be approved by both parties.
The socialist leader has clashed with Church over a number of issues, including the legalization of same-sex ‘marriage’, and plans to pass laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide.
As is customary for French presidents since the time of King Henry IV of France, François Hollande is “first and only honorary canon” of the basilica of St. John Lateran. However, he has declined an invitation from the chapter of the Roman basilica to take possession of his seat.
Nicolas Sarkozy was the last French president to visit the Vatican, on October 8, 2010. On his first visit to Benedict XVI in December 2007, he later travelled to the basilica St. John Lateran to receive his symbolic title.
All other presidents of the 5thRepublic have been “installed” by the chapter, with the exceptions of Georges Pompidou (1969-1974) and François Mitterrand (1981-1995).