Sarkozy to Visit Benedict XVI
French Spokesman Calls Holy See Diplomacy "Influential"
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French spokesman David Martinon, during a press conference Dec. 13., said this trip is "extremely important" at this time for "diplomatic reasons" and for reasons of national interest, "since the Holy See's diplomacy is extremely active and influential."
It is the first visit by Sarkozy to the Holy See as the president of the French republic. He made visits when he was the minister of the interior and the minister of religion.
The president should meet the Pope again in 2008, during the papal pilgrimage to Lourdes for the anniversary of Mary's apparitions in that French village.
Following the example of his predecessors, Sarkozy will receive the title given to the head of France since Henry IV, the Honorary Canon at the Lateran Basilica.
The president will take possession of the stall of the Honorary Canon of St. John Lateran during vespers at the Lateran Basilica.
Then, in the famous Room of Conciliation at the Lateran Palace, where the Lateran Pacts were signed by Benito Mussolini and Cardinal Pietro Gasparri in 1929, the president will give a discourse on the relationship between Church and state.
In the recent past, five French president have visited the Vatican: René Coty (received by Pope Pius XII in 1957), Charles de Gaulle (received by Pope John XXIII in 1959 and by Pope Paul VI in 1967), Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (received in 1975 by Paul VI), François Mitterrand (received by Pope John Paul II in 1982), and Jacques Chirac (received by John Paul II in 1996).