Pope Francis received members of the French Parliament on Saturday at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The meeting comes at a sensitive time in France where protests against the French president’s approval of a same-sex “marriage” law have increased.
The members of the French Senate and the National Assembly had requested an audience with the Pope, who welcomed them saying that their presence manifested “the quality of the relations between [France] and the Holy See”
The Pope began his address by underlining the “relations of trust” the Church and the French nation share, while stating the need for an open dialogue without hostility.
“The principle of secularism 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,” Pope Francis said.
“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.”
Reminding them of their duties in “a nation toward which the eyes of the world often turn to”, the Holy Father urged the members of the French Senate and National Assembly to contribute towards the improvement of the life of French citizens.
“Your work,” the Pope said, “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.”
Pope Francis concluded his address by encouraging the members to continue the mission of seeking the well-being of the human person and “promoting fraternity” in France.