Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Tunisia's Parliament votes on new Government

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

French court rules #burkini ban "clearly illegal"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Biden in Turkey, Colombia Peace Deal, Ethiopia Olympic Protest (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Earthquake in Italy, French Burkini Ruling (part 1)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

The hidden secrets of Les Invalides

Read more

FOCUS

Pro-Opposition stronghold Port-Gentil feverishly awaits presidential elections

Read more

ENCORE!

Alexis Michalik: treading the boards in the footsteps of 'Edmond'

Read more

REPORTERS

Getting away with murder in DR Congo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Why does Italy refuse to see the seismic risk?'

Read more

Europe

Sarkozy meets Pope amid fallout on Roma crackdown

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-08

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has met with Pope Benedict XVI amid mounting international criticism, including from the Vatican, of France's crackdown on Roma (Gypsy) travellers.

AFP - French President Nicolas Sarkozy met Friday with Pope Benedict XVI in an audience that was largely seen as a fence-mending visit following France’s controversial crackdown on Gypsies.

Sarkozy’s government has linked Gypsies, or Roma, to crime, dismantled hundreds of their shantytowns and expelled more than 1,000 Roma in recent months, sending them home to Romania and Bulgaria.

The crackdown has been criticized by many Roman Catholics and Benedict himself appeared to weigh in on it with a subtle message about tolerance over the summer.

Speaking in French to pilgrims gathered at his summer residence Aug. 22, Benedict urged people to accept “legitimate human diversity” and asked parents to “educate your children about universal brotherhood,” a statement that was widely interpreted as being directed at France.

Sarkozy arrived about 15 minutes late, looking tense. But by the end of the half-hour visit, he appeared relaxed as he presented the pope with a collection of books and received in exchange a ceramic model and print of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Sarkozy then asked the pope for an extra rosary - the gift Benedict usually gives delegation members traveling with visiting heads of state. Benedict’s personal secretary Monsignor Georg Ganswein fetched one from a drawer and gave it to Sarkozy.

After Sarkozy’s papal audience, Sarkozy was to meet with other Vatican officials and visit St. Peter’s Basilica before lunching with the Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Le Parisien newspaper said Sarkozy’s visit to the Vatican was seen as a chance to repair his image with France’s Catholics, many of whom have been disturbed above all by his “’bling-bling’ image, his relationship to money, and quite simply his way of being.”

The Rev. Philippe Verdin, a Dominican priest who published a book of interviews with Sarkozy in 2004, said Sarkozy was engaged in a “great spiritual quest.”

“He is very intuitive and understands how important prayer is: He’s a man who prays,” Le Parisien newspaper quoted Verdin as saying. “He is very concerned about giving grace to God. I am sure he thanked God for allowing him to meet Carla Bruni.”

Bruni, Sarkozy’s wife, was not attending the papal audience Friday.
 

Date created : 2010-10-08

  • FRANCE 24 EXCLUSIVE

    French police take DNA samples of Roma, rights group claims

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    EU to launch legal action against France over Roma

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Roma groups threaten to take France to EU court over forced deportations

    Read more

COMMENT(S)