Pope Benedict XVI welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the Vatican, and a top Vatican official prayed with the president in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Catholic News Service reported. Sarkozy’s visit to the Vatican Oct. 8 came at a time when the French leader’s popularity is falling and in the wake of harsh criticism from some church leaders over his government’s proposals to deport some Roma. The pope and president spent more than 30 minutes alone together before Sarkozy went on to a meeting with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s foreign secretary.
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