Academy reward for French cardinal

PEOPLE: Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger

The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, entered the ranks of France's immortals yesterday, taking his seat in the august Academie Francaise, the body that - among other things - guards the purity of the French language.

Mgr Lustiger raised eyebrows most recently when he agreed to conduct the memorial mass in Notre Dame for the late President Francois Mitterrand, an occasion much-criticised for associating a determinedly secular state too closely with the church. But he has a long association with controversy.

Born of Polish Jewish parents, he converted to Catholicism in 1940 at the age of 14, a fact that prevents some French Catholics from accepting him fully as French and attracts the opprobrium of some Jews, who have cast doubt on his motives.

His conversion has also been held against him by Israel, which last year omitted his name from a list of dignitaries invited to an ecumenical gathering in Jerusalem.

At the academy, Mgr Lustiger inherits the chair of the late Cardinal Archbishop of Lyons, Albert Decourtray. This week, Mgr Lustiger went out of his way to deny insistent reports that he had expressed an interest in the chair as soon as it became vacant.

"I have never sought any honour," he said. "I never made any statements or requests."

Robert Mugabe has never been one to fight his political battles on a level playing field, and now he doesn't need one anyway. He has been swooping around Zimbabwe by helicopter on the campaign trail ahead of the presidential elections this weekend, while his one remaining challenger, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, 71, relies on borrowed vehicles.

Laws passed by the Mugabe government give his party millions of tax dollars for campaigning each year, while Bishop Muzorewa's United Parties and other opposition groups get nothing. Independent newspapers have folded, some under harassment from the government. And as radio, press and television slavishly report the merest presidential platitude, the grossest untruth, they ignore Bishop Muzorewa, whose tiny campaign HQ does not even have a telephone.

Margaret Dongo, one of only three opposition MPs, says people should protest by refusing to take part in the election. Hence the sky-high helicopter bills. Mr Mugabe was advised that, unless he cracked the whip, he faced a somewhat embarrassing 15 per cent turnout. Last night even deeper embarrassment faced the president. Bishop Muzorewa threatened to pull out altogether, handing Mr Mugabe a walkover that left his power intact but his credibility in tatters.

Silvio Berlusconi is in danger of being deserted by Italy's "mammas". The 850,000 strong National Housewives' Federation, worried by what it describes as a tide of old and unqualified people who are continuing to dabble in politics and undermine female MPs, is threatening to throw its weight and muscle behind the centre-left Olive Tree coalition.

The "mamma" vote helped Mr Berlusconi's right-wing Freedom Alliance to victory in 1994, and he must be wondering how he can win back the hearts of Italian women.

He could do worse than consult Boris Yeltsin. The Russian president's wife, Naina, in an interview published n the popular weekly Argumenty i Faktyyesterday, says she has enjoyed 40 years of happiness with her husband despite his weakness for women in general as well as his wife in particular. "Of course, I sometimes felt hurt - he always was very gallant at parties and never spared a compliment to women," she said. "And they always notice him."

James Roberts

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...

Recruitment Genius: Continuous Improvement Manager

£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Entry Administrator

£10670 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee