France's Hollande to meet pope after priest killing

They are also expected to discuss the situation facing Christians in the Middle East

Afp August 16, 2016

French President Francois Hollande will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday to discuss the aftermath of the extremist murder of a French priest, Hollande's office said on Monday.

An official told AFP the meeting was organised "following the events in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray", the northern town where 85-year-old priest Jacques Hamel was killed by two teens claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group.

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They are also expected to discuss the situation facing Christians in the Middle East.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve is likely to accompany Hollande, the official at the Elysee presidential palace said.

Hollande may also visit San Luigi dei Francesi (Saint-Louis-des-Francais), a French church in central Rome, to pay tribute to the victims of terrorism.

Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean stormed Hamel's church on July 26 and slit his throat in front of a small group of worshippers while he was conducting mass.

The attack was the first committed in the name of IS against a church in the West.

Both Kermiche and Petitjean were shot dead by police.

On July 14, a extremist ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day on the seafront in Nice, killing 85 people and leaving 434 injured.

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It will be Hollande's second visit to the Vatican, after a trip he made in January 2014.

Relations between the Socialist Party leader and the Holy See have seen periods of tension, triggered by Hollande's failed attempt to appoint an openly gay diplomat as ambassador to the Vatican and a 2013 law in France that approved same-sex marriage.


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