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France

French press review 4 December 2012

media

A row about the homeless and a tale of the undead both feature in today's French newspapers.

The Catholic Church is a bit annoyed with the French Housing Minister, Cécile Duflot.

She has called on organisations with space to spare to recognise the needs of the homeless as winter sets in.

The church says it's already on the case, thank you very much, and doesn't wait for winter to start worrying about the needy.

Right wing Le Figaro, always happy to turn the knife in the wound of a hapless socialist, says the minister was "provocative" and that the church is "indignant".

Parliamentary elections 2012

Catholic daily La Croix is less hot under the collar but still gives the story pride of place, offering a sober and measured response.

The minister said she was not against requisitioning empty spaces - shades of Arnaud Montebourg's nationalisation threats - but was not picking on the Catholic Church in particular. Banks, public buildings, railway stations and military barracks are all likely to be concerned.

The La Croix editorial suggests that recent Catholic opposition to government plans to legalise marriage and adoption for homosexual couples may have made the Church a priority target.

La Croix has a reassuring message for the minister and those she is out to protect: the Catholic Church has already invested heavily in the field of aid to the less well-off, providing not just accommodation, but warm food and welcoming faces as well. The editorial ends by hoping that those who risk dying of cold on the streets of the capital will not become victims of this war of words between the minister and the bishops.

Catholic hearts, and doors, remain wide open.

Libération reports on the surprise of a 90-year-old Austrian woman, worried by the fact that she seemed to be disappearing from official records. In reply to her letter of inquiry, she was informed that she had died six months earlier and was thus no longer entitled to her state pension and other rights.

Anything but dead, she heartily presented herself before the relevant authorities and quoted the American writer Mark Twain to the effect that rumours of her death had been greatly exaggerated.

The Viennese authorities have apologised but warn that this sort of thing can happen from time to time.

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