"One I think represents to strong right, but or I don't know where it comes from." This is how Pope Francis referred to current President of France, Emmanuel Macron, when post was played in second round of elections against Marine Le Pen. Something more than a year later, with all cards already on table, Francis received him at Vatican at a particularly delicate time for French president. In midst of a storm over EU reform and tensions with Italy, issues on table were immigration, populism or future of Europe.More information
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The meeting lasted 57 minutes, and it was behind closed doors. During time allowed to attend journalists could be seen as Macron gave Francisco an old edition of Daily Book of a rural priest of Georges Bernales-that pope said he had read many times-and pontiff gave him medallion that represents To San Martín de Tours, patron of Buenos Aires and who gave his mantle to poor. "He wants to underline vocation of rulers to help poor. Because we are all poor, "he reminded him.
Macron will not visit Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte. But French president, who has always been defined as agnostic, will use visit to send a clear message to Chigi Palace, seat of Italian government, about his plans for future and new European alliances. The tension has reached unprecedented levels in last few weeks. The leader of 5 Star Movement (M5S) and vice president of Italy, Luigi di Maio, assured last Sunday that Macron is today number one enemy of Italy. The reality is that new government has not yet made any official visit to Holy Far, despite fact that Matteo Salvini announced a few days ago his intention to do so and received silence for response.
In fact, leader of league floated in environment. The immigration policy that tries to impose on minister of Interior, especially his aggressive rhetoric, worries in Vatican. The view of Holy See, positioned since arrival of Francis clearly on side of migrants, will be crucial in perception that some citizens may have about political dynamics of government of populist coalition.
In internal key, macron — accompanied by his wife Brigitte, minister of Interior, Gérard Collomb, and a delegation of 15 people — also launches a nod to French Catholic community, traditionally on right. During this visit, Macron will receive title of first and only canon of honor of Basilica of Rome St. John Lateran, an honorable distinction whose tradition goes back to French heads of state since Henri IV.