The Mass in Marseille will be the first by a pope in France since John Paul II celebrated on the promenade of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1980.
Is Emmanuel Macron violating the republic’s secularism by attending Pope Francis’ mass in Marseille? This is a criticism heard recently from the French left.
Bastien Lachot, a leftist lawmaker, wrote on social network X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday that Macron “makes a mockery of secularism and tramples on its principles, the separation of church and state and the neutrality of the state towards religion.”
Communist leader Fabien Roussel responded on Thursday that in a “secular republic” “it is not necessarily the responsibility of the president of the republic to attend Mass”.
In the face of criticism, the French head of state rejected the controversy.
“I consider it my responsibility to go. I will not go as a Catholic, I will go as president of a de facto secular republic,” he declared during his visit to Semur-en-Auxois. “I myself do not practice any religion during this Mass,” he added.
The French president’s office had already tried to calm down the controversy the day before. They said the separation of church and state does not preclude maintaining relations with “any cult” and specified that President Macron would not participate in the “Eucharist,” calling it a “popular” and “celebratory” event. He emphasized that.
“The state is neutral. The public service is neutral and, as we reiterated at the beginning of the new school year, we also protect our schools,” Macron said in a loose-fitting dress worn by Muslim women. He said this while referring to the ban on wearing certain abayas in schools.
Previous meeting between President Macron and the Pope
The 45-year-old president is also planning a private meeting with the Pope before the religious ceremony.
Argentina’s Pope reiterated that his visit to Marseille on September 22 and 23, which focused on immigration, was not a state visit. One of the most important moments will be Mass in front of 60,000 spectators at the Velodrome stadium.
The Mass in Marseille will be the first by a pope since John Paul II celebrated at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1980 in the presence of then-French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
In June 2017, shortly after his first election, Emmanuel Macron attended the annual iftar (fast-breaking dinner) of the French Federation of Religious Mussulmans (CFCM), France’s second-largest religious organization.