Hollande Meets With Pope Francis Amid Affair Rumor
French President Francois Hollande met Friday with Pope Francis amid tensions in his private life over a gossip magazine’s report about an alleged affair with an actress.
Hollande didn’t mention the scandal or the first lady, Valerie Trierweiler, in brief remarks to reporters afterward. He didn’t take questions, nixing a planned press conference in favor of a statement about the issues discussed with Francis: Africa, Syria, refugees and the environment.
Vatican Television covered Hollande’s visit live, showing the stately arrival of his motorcade in the Apostolic Palace courtyard, Hollande’s slow walk in the frescoed palace halls accompanied by Swiss Guards and finally his greeting with a solemn-faced Francis in the pope’s private study.
Hours before the arrival, a small homemade bomb exploded in front of a French foundation that manages French architectural treasures in Rome, including five churches, and is headed by the French ambassador to the Holy See. The Carabinieri military police said no one was injured, but that a few windows of the palazzo were shattered and that three cars parked on the street outside were damaged.
Police said it wasn’t clear if the bomb, which contained metal bits as well as explosive powder, was related to Hollande’s visit or the foundation, which is located in the heart of Rome’s historic center.
Hollande said he and the pope had discussed the security situation in the Central African Republic, where French forces are helping to stabilize the poor country and end sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims - as well as the war in Syria.