ROME — In a closely monitored meeting on Tuesday, Pope Francis met for the first time with French President Emmanuel Macron.

In what is believed to be one of Francis’s longest private meetings with a head of state to date, lasting nearly one hour, the meeting comes at a moment in which Macron has emerged a leading player on the global stage and a potentially critical interlocutor with the Vatican for European relations.

A statement released by the Holy See stated that the two discussed the bilateral relations between the two countries and the commitment of the Church to promoting the common good.

“Attention then turned to global issues of shared interest, such as the protection of the environment, migration, and multilateral commitment to conflict prevention and resolution, especially in relation to disarmament,” said the statement.

Macron’s visit comes at a time when he is at odds with the new populist government of Italy over migration policy — resulting in his decision to forgo a meeting with any government officials during his time in Rome.

More recently he has condemned the “leprosy” of populism within the European Union.

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The Vatican communiqué also noted that the French president and the pope discussed global conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, along with “a joint reflection on the prospects of the European project.”

Before leaving his meeting with Francis, Macron gave the pontiff the typical French bisous, a kiss on both cheeks.

Following that meeting, Macron met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States.

Later today Macron will travel to Rome’s Lateran Basilica, a church with long-standing ties to the French monarchy, where he will take up his title as an honorary proto-canon.