French Admonish Pope for Prayer at Antiabortion Crusader’s Grave

The French, who respect and revere their country’s long-established principles of separation of church and state and laicism, or religious tolerance, were angered by the Pope’s plan to visit an antiabortion crusader’s grave on Friday, August 22. A public statement issued by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin’s governing Socialist Party read “the meaning of such a gesture can only cause discontent and risks encouraging in our country the determination of those who wage a struggle bearing the mark of intolerance.” This statement was issued several hours before John Paul, in Paris for the World Youth Festival Days, traveled by helicopter to the nearby grave of Jerome Lejeune, a French geneticist and prominent antiabortion activist. Lejeune, a friend and intellectual soul mate of the pope, founded a prominent antiabortion group called Let Them Live and discovered the extra chromosome that causes Down’s syndrome. Ironically, Lejeune’s research has led many women to end their pregnancies upon learning that their fetuses hold the congenital defect that causes the disease.


The Washington Post - August 25, 1997

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