Sarkozy leads mourners for Paris archbishop's funeral

10th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 10, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy led he rethousands of mourners on Friday at the funeral of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, ttired archbishop of Paris, in Notre Dame Cathedral.

PARIS, Aug 10, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy led he rethousands of mourners on Friday at the funeral of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, ttired archbishop of Paris, in Notre Dame Cathedral.

Sarkozy jetted home overnight from a US vacation to pay a final tribute to Lustiger, a pivotal figure in French religious life who served as archbishop for a quarter century until 2005, and died on Sunday aged 80.

Born Jewish, Lustiger converted to Roman Catholicism during World War II but never renounced his original faith, and spent his life working to better relations between Jews and Catholics.

In line with the cardinal's wishes, ceremonies began with a reading of a Jewish psalm, followed by the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, before the crowd of around 5,000 people gathered on Notre Dame esplanade.

Several cardinals and bishops bent to kiss Lustiger's coffin, before it was carried inside the cathedral, where it was to be laid in a crypt.

Lustiger's successor, Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois, paid homage to the cardinal's "decisive" contribution to Catholic-Jewish dialogue, saying he had turned his "many friendships into a sort of universal parish".

Created a cardinal by John Paul II, Lustiger was tipped at one point as a potential successor to the late pope.

France's Catholics, Jews and Muslims have joined in paying tribute to his memory and leaders of all three faiths were present at Notre Dame.

After the ceremony, also attended by Prime Minister Francois Fillon and half a dozen government ministers, Sarkozy was to head back to the United States for a Saturday lunch date with George W. Bush at the US president's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Sarkozy and his family have been vacationing since last week in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, an hour's drive from Kennebunkport.

AFP

Subject: French news

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