ROME — Tuesday Pope Francis sent a telegram to the new President of France, Emmanuel Macron, offering his prayers and wishes that in his new role, he will support the rich moral and spiritual traditions of the country, including that of Christianity.
“I pray that God support you so that your country, faithful to the rich diversity of its moral traditions and its spiritual heritage marked also by the Christian tradition, may always endeavor to build a more just and fraternal society,” Francis said in the May 16 message.
“With respect for difference and attention to those in situations of vulnerability and exclusion, may it contribute to the cooperation and solidarity between nations,” the pope continued.
On the occasion of the investiture of the new president, which took place on May 14, the pope sent his good wishes for the exercise of the office, that it be “at the service” of all the people of France.
“May France continue to foster, in Europe and throughout the world, the search for peace and the common good, respect for life and the defence of the dignity of every person and of all peoples.”
Francis also urged the country of France to continue to nurture an appreciation and defense of the dignity of every person, including “respect for life” and a search for peace and the common good in Europe and around the world.
He concluded his brief telegram by invoking the Lord’s blessing on President Macron and on all the inhabitants of France.
In France’s presidential election on May 7, 39-year-old centrist Macron beat Marine Le Pen, the far right candidate of the National Front party with 66 percent of the vote. He is the youngest president to ever be elected in France.
Macron took office May 14 and will now have to deal with a slate of difficulties for the country, such as unemployment, terrorist threats and political division.
Having never been elected to any other political office, he ran as the head of a new movement, En March!, instead of an established political party. His politics have been described as liberal and progressive, though he has said he hopes to transcend the divides of the left and right political parties.
He was not the only candidate who appealed to the latent Catholics of France during the election season. François Fillon, former prime minister of France and a practicing Catholic, shocked pundits and political commentators throughout the country when he pulled ahead in the Republican party and beat out the moderate former Prime Minister Alain Juppé (himself a self-described “agnostic Catholic”) by a wide margin.
His Catholicism was such a strong part of his political identity that a headline in the newspaper Libération proclaimed: “Help, Jesus has returned!”
President Macron has said that he supports the French principle of secularism (laïcité). He has also said that “we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity,” though he believes that “when one enters the public realm, the laws of the Republic must prevail over religious law.”