A President of the Republic and a Pope who speak informally to each other is unheard of.
For their fourth tête-à-tête, François and Emmanuel Macron will resume in Marseille, this Saturday, September 23, the thread of an unusually close relationship initiated during their first exchange, at the Vatican, on June 26, 2018, at the start of the president’s five-year term. The two men, after an hour of conversation, left each other exchanging affectionate glances and hugs, while François Hollande, in 2014, strictly adhered to the coldness of protocol during his only exchange with the Argentine pope. Until then, no president of the Fifth Republic had met a sovereign pontiff so often during his mandate.
What brings Emmanuel Macron and Pope Francis together?
In his relationships, Emmanuel Macron can practice opposite registers: depending on the interlocutors, he affirms the Jupiterian verticality of the presidential function, or displays a familiarity specific to old friends. Pope Francis, accused by some of desacralizing the papal function, appreciates personal relationships: his ability to listen, to meet unfamiliar people in depth, is beyond doubt. He can then express his warm, tactile Latin temperament. But there are more than questions of style or political interest in what brings the two men together.
Macron, an agnostic “at the same time” open to transcendence, recognizes the place of religions in humanity’s quest for meaning: “Religions build the fabric of a society and are situated in the long term,” he affirmed. at the peace summit of the Sant’Egidio community, in October 2022. The Jesuit pope appreciates this openness of thought from the president, trained in particular by the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, an author whose influence can be seen in the apostolic exhortation Love Laetitia (2016). And then, the young Macron, educated in a Jesuit college, was able to keep a trace of this spirit, whose spirituality integrates the art of discerning, of choosing, and therefore of governing.