- Mar 21, 2005
- Reaction score
- New York, NY
- Political Leaning
- Slightly Conservative
Politicians in secular France squabbled over whether the government had been right to order flags lowered on public buildings in a sign of respect for Pope John Paul.
Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin defended the government's move, saying the lowering of the flag was one of the "Republican customs" when a pope died.
"They have been applied at the occasion of the deaths of Pius XII, John XXIII and John Paul I," the interior ministry said in a statement.
Once so Catholic it was known as the "elder daughter of the Church", France has imposed a strict separation of church and state for 100 years to keep religion from provoking the bloody strife it sparked in previous centuries.
The row underscores the unpopular government's weakness as it struggles to convince hostile voters to back the European Union constitution in a referendum next month.