France and Vatican

Presentation

Political relations

France and the Holy See maintain long-standing relations of confidence, based on their closely converging views on the goals of peace, justice and the defence of human rights. The Holy See recognizes France’s key role in the international community. Our positions on international issues are often very close, including on global issues such as climate change.

The Holy See’s treatment of prominent French Roman Catholic figures attests to the interest of the Vatican’s authorities in France: proclamation of Saint Thérèse de Lisieux as 33rd Doctor of the Church (1997); canonization of Blessed Mother Théodore Guérin (2006), Marie-Eugénie de Jésus (2007), Jeanne Jugan (2009) and Jeanne-Émilie de Villeneuve (2015); beatification of Charles de Foucauld (2005), and Louis and Zélie Martin (2015); canonization of Salomon Leclercq and Élisabeth of the Trinity (2016); canonization of Jean Lostau (2017). The beatification process for Father Hamel began in October 2016.

Visits

French Heads of State generally visit the Holy See shortly after taking office, to take possession of their stall of first and only honorary canon of the Basilica of St John Lateran.

Nicolas Sarkozy visited the Vatican twice during his five-year term (20 December 2007 and 8 October 2010). François Hollande first visited the Holy See on 24 January 2014 and was received for a private audience by the Pope in August 2016 and on the eve of the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaties of Rome (March 2017), along with all his European counterparts.

Other visits to the Holy See by prominent French figures:

  • visit by the Minister of the Interior on the occasion of the canonization of Father Jacques Berthieu (21 October 2012)
  • visit by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development to attend the enthronement ceremony of Pope Francis (20 March 2013)
  • visit by the Prime Minister to attend the canonization ceremony of John XXIII and John Paul II (April 2014)
  • visit by the Minister of the Interior to attend the canonization ceremony of the French Sister Jeanne-Émilie de Villeneuve (May 2015)
  • visit by the Minister of the Interior on the occasion of the canonization ceremony of Louis and Zélie Martin (October 2015)
  • visit by the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, responsible for international climate relations, to attend the canonization ceremony of Solomon Leclercq and Élisabeth de la Trinité (October 2016)
  • visit by the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, responsible for international climate relations, during the G7 Energy meeting (April 2017)
  • visit by the Minister for European Affairs for the beatification of Jean Lostau (October 2017)

Visits by the Pope and the Secretary of State to France:

  • Pope John Paul II visited France on eight occasions during his pontificate (making France his most frequent destination, along with Poland – including Lourdes on his last visit to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (15 August 2004)
  • visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Paris and Lourdes on the occasion of the 150ᵗʰ anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin to Bernadette Soubirous (September 2008)
  • meeting of the President of the French Republic and the French Prime Minister in Paris with the Secretary of State of the Holy See, His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin (June 2015)

Since the start of his pontificate, Pope Francis has not yet made an official visit to France. He has visited the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and announced his intention to make an official visit to France, without specifying a date.

Updated: 22/06/2018

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