How Emmanuel Macron is seen in the Vatican
“When he comes, we talk about him in the hallways. » Whoever tells you this has been working for some years in the Roman Curia. This Vatican source does not hide his criticisms, in a personal capacity, of the French president. But he is forced to admit it: when Emmanuel Macron goes to Rome to see the pope, his visit never goes unnoticed. “Which is not the case for all heads of state”says the same source.
Coming to the Vatican on Monday, October 24, Emmanuel Macron is preparing to meet the Pope for the third time. After a first interview on June 26, 2018, a few months after the start of his first term, then a second on November 26, a few months before his re-election, the French president comes to Rome to pursue what some French diplomats describe as a « relationship followed”.
In fact, the two men get along well. And their relationship is not limited to these appointments. Several times the pope and the president called each other. After the fire of Notre-Dame de Paris, in particular, but also, more recently, at the heart of the Covid crisis, or even to evoke the war between Ukraine and Russia. Calls that are not always made public.
On the French diplomacy side, there are similarities. « One could be the other’s son, given their age difference, but they have in common that they are both disruptive, says a diplomat. Both distrust their administration and push it around. And both centralize power. »
But beyond the personal relationship, and any common points between the two men, the French president’s last visits to Rome have sometimes made people smile. Or annoyed. The youth of the French president, 44, in a world where seriousness necessarily passes through a certain age, leads some to compare him to a » teenager « . Others insist on the « fascination » exercised by François on the president.
The familiarity, used publicly by Emmanuel Macron in November to address François, caused exasperation. “I tired you, with all these stories”, had assured the president to the pope, in front of the cameras of the Vatican. Before adding: “Thank you for your patience, thank you. » A familiarity of a head of state with a pope that can exist in private, but is extremely rare in public. And which caused some gnashing of teeth at the Apostolic Palace.
« He’s still the only one who kisses the pope »notes a source within the Curia, who sees between the two men « an emotional relationship ». “He constantly seeks a form of complicity with the pope, note the same person. But at the same time, there is a form of authenticity in Macron, we feel that he wants to do well. »
The annoyance at the Apostolic Palace is also quite palpable for this new visit. At issue this time: the organization of the presidential visit as a » to the side « participation in the summit of Sant’Egidio. Because the Élysée does not hide the fact that, if an audience with François was requested, it was during Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Rome, to the annual forum of the Catholic community, which is very committed in the diplomatic field.. “Macron likes to come to the pope, we squeal in the Vatican. But he comes to the pope because he comes to Sant’Egidio. He comes first to them. »