French press review 15 October 2014

The pope is credited with a revolution in the Catholic church. The Germans may ride to the rescue of France's budget deficit. And the richest one per cent now own over half the world's wealth.


The main story in today's Le Monde says Pope Francis is forcing the Catholic church into a revolution. The battleground is "the family" which, according to the centrist French daily, is going to be the scene of a major modernisation in Catholic thinking.

Thus the church is to be asked to "understand" the fact of people living together outside marriage and may move to allow Catholics who have remarried after a divorce to receive the sacraments.

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The pope has also asked the conservative wing of the church to recognise the "gifts and qualities" of homosexuals, recognising same-sex families as a reality and calling for the rights of children to considered central to any debate.

Le Monde celebrates this new attitude of openness but also notes that not all cardinals agree with the pope. The dissenting voices still have a week in which to make their unhappiness heard. Then there'll be a final document, which might not be so open or forward-looking.

Right-wing paper Le Figaro looks at the same facts and suggests that Pope Francis is taking the risk of unleashing a reactionary storm within the ranks of his deeply conservative organisation.

Even Catholic daily La Croix says that many of the faithful are perplexed and disoriented by the rumours of profound change. The paper says it would be wiser to wait for the publication of the final decision of the current conference.

For its main story Le Figaro continues to worry about money.

Today's the day for the French government to submit their 2015 budget to the boys in Brussels. There's every chance that Brussels will throw the French figures out because they fail, once again, to get within an ass's roar of Paris's promises to reduce the gap between the spending deficit and national production. Now, says Le Figaro, the Germans have offered to vote against any proposal to fine France for that failure but Berlin wants a detailed calendar of reforms in return.

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It sounds almost too good to be true. But, of course, the Germans are simply trying to avert the potential chaos which would be caused by a melt-down of the French economy.

And, if they can force Paris's pesky Socialists to accept the sort of reforms Chancellor AngelaMerkel is demanding in exchange for her support, that will be a major tactical victory for Berlin. You'll remember that French President François Hollande based a major part of his presidential campaign on a promise to put manners on the Germans, for too long rulers of the European roost.

Communist L'Humanité notes that the global crisis has done nothing to slow down growth at the upper end of the pay scale.

There are now 4,000 more millionaires on the planet than there were a year ago with the richest one per cent of human beings now owning more than half the world's wealth. The communist paper does not think this is a good thing, saying that it is clear that austerity as a policy is working only to make the rich more so.

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