French Prime Minister Jean Castex met with Pope Francis in the Vatican today to celebrate the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between France and the Vatican in 1921.

The meeting came after the French government said Catholic priests ‘must report abuse allegations heard in confession’ after an independent commission established by French bishops released a 2,500 page report on clerical sexual abuse today after a 2.5 year investigation, to which Pope Francis expressed “my shame, our shame.”

PM Castex specifically requested Pope Francis carry out a study to ‘reconcile’ the seal of confession with criminal law and victim rights. Castex told reporters Pope Francis called the Church in France “courageous” in handling the issue.

“He trusts the Church in France to draw conclusions. He is pleased there has been no denial. The Church will not go back on the dogma of the secret of the confession. But we must at all costs finds ways and means to reconcile this with criminal law, the rights of victims. He is fully aware of this. It’s a long-term job.” 

Meeting for 30 minutes, speaking Spanish together, they also discussed the situations in Lebanon, Iraq, relations with Turkey, and France’s role in the upcoming COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

For the exchanging of gifts, PM Castex gave Pope Francis a Paris Saint-Germain soccer jersey signed by Argentinean soccer player Lionel Messi. In return, Pope Francis gave him a mosaic with a written message and some significant texts from his papacy, like the document on Human Fraternity he signed with a Sunni Islam leader.

Bidding themselves farewell, they said:

“Thank you for everything you do, and pray for me do not forget.
Thank you very much.
Pray for me, not against me.”

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