FRANCE

Hollande to meet Pope this week after French priest's murder

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve with some of the 508 security force members at Lourdes on Monday
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve with some of the 508 security force members at Lourdes on Monday Pascal Pavani/ AFP

French President François Hollande will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican this week, following the jihadist murder of a French priest. Thousands of Catholics on Monday prayed for peace in the pilgrimage centre of Lourdes, while bishops appealed to the faithful to pray for France across the country on the Feast of the Assumption.

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Hollande's office did not say what the president and the Pope would discuss when announcing the meeting Monday.

But sources told the AFP news agency that the meeting was organised following the murder of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel by teenagers Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean, who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State armed group.

Hollande's visit to Rome on Wednesday will be his second and he met the Pope on the previous one in January 2014.

Some 25,000 Catholics celebrated the Feast of the Assumption in the south-western French city of Lourdes on Monday with heavy security for fear of terror attacks.

The head of the Catholic Bishops of France (CEF) called on the faithful across the country to "pray for France", light candles in Hamel's memory and ring church bells at midday because of the "trials" it faces.

 

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