In an interview with La Croix, Marine Le Pen, the Front National candidate for the presidensity of France, said she was angry with the Roman Catholic Church "because I think it interferes with everything except what it should really be concerned with."
Mme Le Pen told the French daily that she has a "strong faith, and I am fortunate that I have never doubted it." She was, however, critical of Pope Francis, particularly on the issue of immigration. Charitable activities should be the responsibilities of individuals, she said, while states should pursue their national interests. "When the Pope urges nations to accept immigrants without restrictions," she declared, "this falls within the realm of politics and even interference."
The Front National leader took a strong stand for the French tradition of secularism in government and in public affairs generally. She argued that religious symbols such as the Islamic veil should not be allowed in public. "Secularism means that one can pass someone in the street," she explained, "without either one knowing what faith the other follows."
When asked whether religious leaders have a right to enter into public debates, Mme Le Pen replied, "I don’t get involved with what the Pope should say to his followers. I don't think religious should tell the French people how to vote." She went on to say that if she is elected President of France, she will "with great pleasure" invite the Pope to visit, "and I will tell him exactly what I have just told you!"
The first round of voting in France's presidential election takes place next week. If none of the candidates wins a majority, a run-off between the top two contenders will be held on May 7th.
Further reading: "Marine Le Pen: 'La priorité nationale, ce n'est ni illégal ni immoral'", La Croix, 14/4/17. Walt's stylish translation of the quote: "Putting your country first is neither illegal nor immoral!"