You must support Christianity in France, Pope tells Macron

ReutersPope Francis leaves his Wednesday audience in St Peter's Square

Pope Francis has offered prayers for Emmanuel Macron, urging the new president to support the rich moral and spiritual traditions of the country of France – including Christianity.

'I pray that God support you so that your country, faithful to the rich diversity of its moral traditions and its spiritual heritage marked also by the Christian tradition, may always endeavor to build a more just and fraternal society,' Pope Francis said a personal message to Macron.

'With respect for difference and attention to those in situations of vulnerability and exclusion, may it contribute to the cooperation and solidarity between nations.'

He urged him to use his new office to be 'at the service' of France, to show 'respect for life' and to embrace peace and the common good.

Macron, who at 39 is France's youngest president ever, beat the National Front's Marine Le Pen to take 66 per cent of the vote and took office last Friday. Unemployment and terrorism are just two of the many challenges he faces.

His new movement, En March!, is regarded as progressive and secularist, although he has said that he sees it as his duty to let 'everybody practise their religion with dignity'. In the public sphere, he believes the laws of the Republic must prevail over religious law.