French weekly magazines review

The beatification of the late Pope John Paul II in Rome takes pride of place in the French weeklies with publications taking the opportunity to review the life of a man who is taking the first steps towards sainthood. 


 Le Figaro magazine runs a 16-page dossier on blessed Karol Wojtyla, whose remains will be on display at St Peter’s Square throughout the day as his successor Benedict XVI begins the first rituals to his accession to sainthood. The conservative journal recalls the iconic role he played in freeing his country Poland from the fangs of Marxist-Leninism.

The journal interviewed a string of Catholics who knew Karol Wojtyla. There are interesting testimonies by prominent personalities including, his long-time private secretary Cardinal Stanislas Dziwisz of Krakow, and ordinary people, converts and people of the so-called Wojtyla generation who claim he helped transform their lives. One French nun swears that she was healed of Parkinson’s disease after greeting John Paul II. Le Figaro also narrated the saga of Pakistani Catholic Paul Bhatti, who agreed to succeed his brother Shahbaz Bhatti as the country’s minister of religious minorities after his assassination by radical Islamists.

Even the sports weekly L’Equipe pays glowing tribute to John Paul II. The journal claims that Karol Wojtyla may have developed the skills of guardian angel from his love for sports. It recalls that he was already the talented goalkeeper of his school football team with a reputation that extended beyond his hometown way back in 1936.

L’Express looks ahead to the beatification, noting that there has been some criticism within the church hierarchy of the rush to canonize John Paul II just six years after his death. Dissenting voices wanted more time to investigate the candidate’s qualification for sainthood. The magazine explains that Pope Benedict the XVI has staked his personality to get the process underway. The Vatican has compiled a solid file to back the popular clamour for beatification, arguing that it is the man, the outstanding figure, and not the pope who is being canonized.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy is the cover story in this week’s Le Point, for another week running as it continues its examination of his four years in office. The right-leaning magazine takes a swipe at the so-called friends of Le Fouquet’s, the posh Parisian restaurant where Sarkozy threw his victory party four years ago.  Le Point carried out an investigation to find out 'who is who' in the president’s inner circle. It reports that some 50 politicians, prominent business figures and celebrities belong to the exclusive club. The magazine tells all about those who have profited from Sarkozy’s friendship and what they earned from it.  According to Le Point, they are part of a small privileged cast who, on the night of Sarkozy’s victory, found themselves at the centre of a new fantasy world of “demi-gods” protected and favoured by the monarch himself.

L’Express begins a special coverage to marks the 30th anniversary of François Mitterrand’s accession to power in 1981.The conservative journal gathered testimonies from personalities who played key roles during Mitterrand’s 14 years in power, and marvels at the quantity of valuable material which hasn’t been brought into the public domain The magazine reviews a flurry of new books offering various depictions of the time by some of Mitterrand’s closest aides – notably the just-released thriller titled 'Blows and Injuries' by Mitterrand’s long time friend and foreign minister Roland Dumas..

Le Nouvel Observateur looks at the military intervention in Libya warning that the debate about France’s role in the conflict has been eclipsed. The left-leaning journal says it is France that initiated the UN resolution authorising the airstrikes against the Libyan regime to prevent the massacre of civilians. The magazine claims that six weeks after the launch of the operation, the raids have fallen short of meeting that objective. Le Nouvel Observateur argues that the government must now explain why it took France to such a war. The journal is stunned by the silence of politicians and the absence of any debate about why the government took France to war in Libya at the first place.

L’Express sampled the opinion of an ex-French envoy to Tripoli Patrick Haimzadeh . The author of a new book titled “In the Heart of Kadhafi’s Libya”, blames the allies for pushing the rebellion to adopt a combat strategy that is incompatible with the military situation on the ground. Haimzadeh tells the magazine that bombs and airstrikes won’t win the war. The allied operation, he says, was sheer gesticulation driven more by emotions rather than by any determined policy.


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