Scroll To Top
World

France pays
homage to priest who advocated for gays, homeless

France pays
homage to priest who advocated for gays, homeless

France paid national tribute Friday to one of its most beloved public figures, a feisty priest who had battled on behalf of the homeless, poor, and disenfranchised for more than half a century. Abbe Pierre, who founded the Emmaus Community for the poor, now established in 39 countries, has been honored, and mourned, at several gatherings since his death Monday at age 94. The tributes culminated in a funeral Mass Friday at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. President Jacques Chirac declared a day of national homage Friday to the priest considered by many to be the conscience of France. Chirac was among the prominent figures attending the Mass, led by Archbishop of Paris Andre Vingt-Trois. Abbe Pierre's trademark black cape was draped over the coffin for the ceremony. Two enormous screens on the square in front of Notre Dame broadcast the Mass, also shown live on several French television channels. The Roman Catholic priest was to be buried later Friday in a small ceremony in the town of Esteville in Normandy. Abbe Pierre, or Abbot Pierre, the code name he used in the French Resistance in World War II, had served as a spokesman for the homeless since the 1950s, when he persuaded parliament to pass a law forbidding landlords to evict tenants during winter months. He topped polls year after year as France's most beloved public figure. Last year he addressed parliament from his wheelchair, urging lawmakers not to tamper with a law on low-income housing. Born Henry Groues on August 5, 1912, one of eight children in a well-heeled Lyon family, he exchanged comfort for a monk's cell for six years before joining the priesthood in 1938. He entered the Resistance in World War II, taking the name Abbe Pierre in 1942 as a cover for his work manufacturing fake identity papers and helping Jews cross the border to Switzerland. Always frank, Abbe Pierre became even more so in old age. In a 2005 book he said he favored allowing priests to marry. In Mon Dieu...Pourquoi? (My God...Why?) he wrote that he supported unions of gay couples and the ordination of women. In an interview with AP in 1994 he acknowledged one regret: "Everything I was not able to do." (Cecile Roux, AP)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff