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French president Hollande visits pope

Gay unions, abortion expected to feature in talks

24 January, 11:54
French president Hollande visits pope

(ANSA) - Vatican City, January 24 - French President Francois Hollande arrived at the Vatican on Friday for a audience with Pope Francis.

The Argentine pontiff was set to receive Hollande, who is at the centre of a storm in his homeland over an alleged affair with an actress, in the papal apartment.

Hollande's visit comes amid tension between his Socialist government and the Catholic Church in France over the legalisation of gay unions and moves to make it possible for gays to adopt children.

The Church is also unhappy about this week's decision by French lawmakers to approve a change in abortion laws to make terminating a pregnancy easier and plans to alter the law on euthanasia.

Early on Friday a rudimentary explosive exploded in central Rome in the area of a French foundation linked to the French embassy to the Holy See, damaging a number of cars. Police are investigating whether the incident could be linked to Hollande's visit.

The last time a French head of State visited the Vatican was in October 2010, when ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy was received by Benedict XVI.