Pope Begins First Tour of France
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Paris Friday, calling on the nation's secular government to find a place for religion.
"Religion and politics must be open to each other," the pope said. "The presence of Christian values is fundamental for the survival of our nations and our societies."
The pope's words echo those of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called for "positive secularism" to develop the "meaning we want to give to our existences." His comments, along with his decision to invite the pope, have led to harsh criticism, CNN reported.
Sarkozy has called for open conversations about religion, saying it was "legitimate for democracy and respectful of secularism to have a dialogue with religions," The New York Times reported.
However, his words may not sit well. Although roughly 60 percent of France's 65 million citizens are Roman Catholic, only 11 percent consider religion "very important," the Pew Research Center found. France is also home to the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe, according to the BBC.