15 November 2013
French bishops' head shifts focus
The Archbishop of Marseilles, Georges Pontier, the new president of the bishops’ conference, has denounced the French Government’s policy towards new arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania.
Archbishop Pontier told the autumn assembly of the bishops’ conference in Lourdes last week that the only policy being implemented was to reject most “people of Bulgarian and Romanian origin” and destroy their shanty towns instead of letting them integrate into French society. He insisted that many of these people wanted to fit in. He did not use the usual word “Roms” to describe them, saying some French people had turned it into an insult.
In his keynote address, the archbishop played down the church-supported campaign against same-sex marriage, a major topic at last autumn’s Lourdes meeting, prompting commentators to note a “Pope Francis effect” and change in style from his more combative predecessor Cardinal André Vingt-Trois.
The archbishop, 70, said church leaders should discuss social issues “with much humility and the keen awareness that our words should be matched by acts and initiatives.”
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