Le Canard Enchainé is far from being the most reliable news source, but this story is too entertaining not to repeat (via the First Post):
The Pope reportedly told French president Nicolas Sarkozy that his wife, Carla Bruni, was ‘not welcome’ at the Vatican when he visited for a private audience last week. Sarkozy was hoping the half-hour meeting with Benedict XVI would allow him to claw back some of the Catholic voters who have deserted him following his deportation of Roma gypsies over the summer – a policy that has also elicited criticism from the Vatican. But Sarkozy’s visit to the Pope was unusual because it was arranged at such short notice – and because Bruni did not travel with him. Now the French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine has claimed that the reason she stayed in Paris is because “Carla Sarkozy is not welcome at the Vatican.”
But why? Carla Bruni has history with the Pope. Last year, she hit out at the pontiff after he said that Africa’s HIV epidemic could not be solved with condoms. She said she felt the Church ought to “evolve” on this issue. “I was born Catholic, I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular,” she added.
But apparently that is all water under the bridge. According to Le Canard, the real reason for Bruni’s ban is because the Vatican does not want coverage of Sarkozy’s trip to be illustrated in the Italian press with pictures of the Pope juxtaposed with older, saucier pictures of Bruni, who made her name as a model…
For a different approach, here’s a photo of another elderly German (Britain’s Prince Philip), with Ms. Bruni during a recent French state visit to Britain. The good duke does not appear unduly worried by the thought of those old pictures. Nope, not worried at all.