Leave it to the French leftists to bellyache about France lower thirs flags to half-staff out of respect for Pope JohnPaul II. Their major complaint is that it is a sreperation of church and state issue (sound familliar?). Seem the French left either does not know or does not care to know that the Pope is also the heard of a country, in this case, the Vatican City-State. Since France has good diplomatic relations with the Vatican, it is proper to lower their flags to half-staff. Hear is the article and some excerpts.
"Socialist senator Jean-Luc Melenchon and Yves Contassot, a senior Green party member on the Paris City Council, said the government had abused its powers on Monday by ordering the official tribute to the Pope, who died on Saturday.I am no expert in French law, but as a head of state, I doubt that lowering the flags has any illegal implications.
The Unsa union said the government was guilty of double standards having ordered schools to take part in the tribute to a religious leader after banning Muslim headscarves in state schools in a drive to keep them firmly secular.
"Let the Christians pay tribute to the head of their church, it's a private matter," Contassot told France Inter radio.
"Today, we have a government and a head of state who, clearly, for political reasons, are trying to take advantage of an issue that is a private matter," he said.
Lowering of flags on all state buildings was "totally out of place and at the limit of legality.""
"Cardinal Bernard Panafieu, Archbishop of Marseille, said he had "difficulty understanding" some of the reactions to the state's decision to lower French flags.Do not feel bad, Cardinal, I do not understand it either. The left in france is having a coniption over the EU and the staggring unemployment rate. This is not the way to show that anger. - Sailor
A spokesman for Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said France also ordered its flags lowered in 1991 on the death of Norway's King Olaf V and in 1989 when Japanese Emperor Hirohito died.
"It's a republican tradition ... that applies to heads of state in office with which France has special relations or is friendly," the official said.
"The Pope is head of the Catholic Church and head of the Vatican City State" and flags would again be at half mast on Friday when the Pontiff is buried. French President Jacques Chirac and his wife Bernadette are to attend the funeral."