On October 23, 2022, President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech at the opening of the 36th International Forum for Peace, organized by the Sant ‘Egidio Community, in Rome. The next day he was received in private audience by Pope Francis for 55 minutes.
On images released by the Vatican, the two men appeared smiling, the French president familiar with the sovereign pontiff as he had done during his previous visit, in 2021.
During the traditional exchange of gifts, the Pope offered a bronze medal representing St. Peter's Square, as well as his latest Message for Peace, the Document on Human Fraternity co-signed with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar on February 4, 2019 [also called the Abu Dhabi Declaration], and a book on the Statio Orbis of March 27, 2020, when he had, in the midst of a pandemic, addressed a prayer for the world, alone, in St. Peter's Square battered by rain.
For his part, Emmanuel Macron offered a French edition of the essay Towards Perpetual Peace (1795) by the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). The choice of the French president may come as a surprise, except it was anticipated by Stefano Fontana, whose comments we reported on earlier this month.
Indeed, in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana of September 13, the Italian philosopher considered that the Congress of Spiritual Leaders of World and Traditional Religions – in which Pope Francis participated – was akin to a form of “UN of religions.”
Thus, “His trip is certainly in line with the encyclical Fratelli tutti  with the Abu Dhabi declaration  and with his conception of interreligious dialogue.” He saw in this forum “a project for a UN of religions that is more reminiscent of the projects of Enlightenment internationalism than the intentions of Catholic universalism.”
He also denounces the philosophical backing of this type of syncretist meetings: “The most illustrious thinker who provided the basis for a project like the one being pursued in the Congresses in Kazakhstan was certainly Immanuel Kant. For this purpose he wrote his two treatises on Perpetual Peace (1795) and Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793).”
“As a good 'Pietist', Kant reduced religion to reason and faith to morality. The only thing the believer must do is 'behave well', everything else is superstition. And they must do it because it is the only thing they can do. Kantian religion is, therefore, a universal religion, because reason and morality are universal. It is also a religion without dogmas, because its principles are the principles of morality that reason alone is capable of fixing in the conscience.”
The scholar concluded by questioning “the Catholic Church's participation in this new syncretistic civic morality, which can only arise from putting the truth or non-truth of religions in brackets and reducing them to the conventional morality of international institutions.”