President Emmanuel Macron will attend a solemn mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Saturday 23 September at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille. The event will be a “popular” and “celebratory” event, the Elysee Palace said on Thursday.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will meet the Pope on Friday 22 September upon his arrival in Marseille, and Emmanuel Macron will be present the following morning at the closing meetings between bishops and young people from around the Mediterranean, which will focus in particular on migration issues, but he won’t talk. He will then have a one-on-one meeting with Francis, his fourth since his first election as president in 2017. The head of state will finally accompany the Pope to the airport after the mass, and will hold another meeting for the occasion. short interview” with him, the Elysee Palace reports.
His participation in the Pope’s Mass, the first for a sitting President of the Republic, is viewed negatively by several elected officials from the left-wing party La France Insoumise (LFI), who believe that such presence is contrary to the principles of secularism.
“I respect faith and the faithful. But I do not agree with the fact that an elected official, and in particular the President of the Republic, participates in his capacity in a religious ceremony,” said LFI MP Alexis Corbiere on X (formerly Twitter).
According to Bastien Lachaux, another party member, Emmanuel Macron “ridicules secularism and tramples on its principles, the separation of church and state, the neutrality of the state in relation to religions.”
Rejecting this criticism, the head of state’s entourage considered that the separation of Church and state “does not at all exclude the Republic from maintaining relations” with “all religions.” He clarified that the president will not participate “in the Eucharist,” that is, he will not receive communion.
According to the adviser, Emmanuel Macron will attend this mass not “as a believer” but “as head of state”, and has visited synagogues in the past or participated in “breaking the fast” during the Muslim month of Ramadan. . The Élysée Palace stressed that the dispute only comes from “the same political party.”
The pope announced his visit to Marseille on August 6 on the sidelines of World Youth Day, specifying that he was going “to Marseille, not to France,” as if to clarify that his trip would have no significance. state visit, but rather intended to devote it to the migration issue.
“The problem that worries me is the Mediterranean problem, that’s why I’m going to France. The exploitation of migrants is criminal,” the pope said when announcing his visit.