Macron’s office hails ‘convergence’ with pope over pandemic response

CNA Staff, Apr 22, 2020 / 09:30 am (CNA).- A 45-minute phone call between Pope Francis and French president Emmanuel Macron revealed “a lot of convergence” between the two leaders on the coronavirus crisis, the president’s office has said.

French officials told reporters April 21 that the pope and Macron had discussed the debts of developing countries, aid to Africa, the need for a global ceasefire and the importance of a united Europe.

“There is a lot of convergence in vision and in the answers,” the Elysée said.

The Holy See press office made no official statement regarding the conversation, in line with its policy of not commenting on private talks between the pope and world leaders. But the French version of the Vatican News website reported the Elysée’s account of the discussion and noted that Macron had renewed his invitation to the pontiff to visit France.

Macron summarized his conversation with the pope in a Twitter post April 21. He said they had spoken about “the ordeal that humanity is going through and what it requires of us: to support Africa and help the poorest countries; to alleviate suffering by a universal truce in conflicts; and to show a supportive and united Europe.”

Last week Macron echoed Pope Francis’ appeal in his Easter Urbi et Orbi message for debt relief for the world’s poorest countries amid the coronavirus crisis. In a televised address April 13, Macron called for debt cancelation “on a massive scale.”

After the discussion with the pope, Macron spoke to representatives of French religious groups, including Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference.

According to the newspaper Le Figaro, Macron suggested that public religious services could possibly resume in France in mid-June, but with a limited number of worshipers.

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