- Abbé Pierre
name= Abbé Pierre
caption=Founder of the Emmaüs movement
death_date=death date and age|2007|1|22|1912|8|5
Paris, FranceL'Abbé Pierre (born Henri Antoine Grouès; 5 August 1912– 22 January 2007) was a French Catholic priest, member of the Resistance during the World War II, and deputy of the Popular Republican Movement(MRP). He founded in 1949 the Emmaus movement, which has the goal of helping poor and homeless people and refugees. "Abbé" means abbotin French, and is also used as a courtesy title given to Catholic priests. He was one of the most popular figures in France, but had his name removed from such polls after some time." [http://www.ifop.com/europe/docs/toppersonnalit%E9s.pdf Le top 50 des personnalités] ", 12/06, sondage IFOP pour le Journal du dimanchep.12 et suivantes]
Youth and education
Henri Grouès was born on
August 5 1912in Lyon, France to a wealthy Catholicfamily of silktraders, the fifth of eight children. He spent his childhood in Irigny, near Lyon. He was twelve when he met François Chabbeyand went for the first time with his father to an Order circle, the brotherhood of the " Hospitaliers veilleurs" in which the mainly middle-class members would serve the poor by providing barber services.
Henri became a member of the "
Scouts de France" in which he was nicknamed "Meditative Beaver" ("Castor méditatif"). In 1928, aged 16, he made the decision to join a monastic order, but he had to wait until he was seventeen and a half to fulfill this ambition. In 1931 Henri entered the Capuchin Order, the principal off-shoot of the Franciscans, renouncing his inheritances and offering all his possessions to charities. Known as "frère Philippe" (Brother Philippe), he entered the monastery of Crest in 1932, where he lived seven years. He had to leave in 1939 after developing severe lunginfections, which made the strict and hard monastic life difficult to cope with. He became chaplainin the hospital of La Mure(Isère), and then of an orphanagein the Côte-Saint-André(also in the Isère department). After being ordained a Roman Catholic priest on August 24, 1938, he became curateof Grenoble's cathedral in April 1939, only a few months before the invasion of Poland. [ [http://www.fondation-abbe-pierre.fr/abbe_pierre.html Fondation Abbé Pierre] ] The Jesuit Fr. Henri de Lubactold him on the day of his priestly ordination: "ask to the Holy Spirit that he grants you the saints' anti-clericalism". [ «demandez à l'Esprit saint qu'il vous accorde l'anticléricalisme des saints», quote in [http://www.lefigaro.fr/magazine/20070126.WWW000000593_le_diable_et_le_bon_dieu.html "Le diable et le bon dieu"] , " Le Figaro", January 26, 2007 fr icon ]
World War II
When war broke out in 1939, he was mobilised as a
non-commissioned officerin the train transport corps. According to his official biography, he helped Jewish people to escape Nazipersecution the day after the July 1942 " Rafle du Vel'd'Hiv" raid, and another raid in the area of Grenoble in the non-occupied zone: "In July 1942, two fleeing Jews asked him for help. Having discovered the persecution taking place, he immediately went to learn how to make false passports. Starting in August 1942, he guided Jewish people to Switzerland".
His pseudonym dates from his work with the French resistance during the Second World War, when he operated under several different names. Based in Grenoble, an important center of the Resistance, he helped Jews and politically persecuted escape to Switzerland. [ [http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=115372007 Abbé Pierre, the conscience of France, dies at the age of 94] , "
The Scotsman", January 23, 2007en icon ] In 1942, he assisted Jacques de Gaulle(the brother of Charles de Gaulle) and his wife escape to Switzerland. [http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/societe/230198.FR.php Il aurait mérité dix fois d'être fait “Juste parmi les nations”] , testimony of Jean-Claude Duclos, curator of the Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de l’Isère, in " Libération", January 25, 2007 fr icon ] Moreover, Henri participated in creating a section of the "maquis" where he officially became one of the local leaders in the Vercors Plateauand in the Chartreuse Mountains. He also helped people to avoid being taken into the " Service du travail obligatoire" (STO), the Nazi forced-labour program agreed upon with Pierre Laval, by creating in Grenoble the first refugee for resistants to the STO. He also founded the clandestine newspaper "L'Union patriotique indépendante". In "Le Monde" 's obituary, in English: [http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/5614/29/ "ABBÉ PIERRE, FOUNDER OF EMMAÜS, IS DEAD"] , January 23, 2007( [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3382,36-857943@51-857899,0.html original article here] en icon/fr icon ] [http://humanite.fr/journal/2007-01-23/2007-01-23-844445 L'insurgé de la bonté] , " L'Humanité", January 23, 2007fr icon ]
He was arrested twice, once in 1944 by the Nazi police in the city of
Cambo-les-Bainsin the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, but was quickly released and went therefore to Spain then Gibraltarto finally join the Free French Forcesof General de Gaulle in Algeria. In the Free North Africa, he became a chaplainin the French Navyon the battleship "Jean Bart" in Casablanca. He had become an important character and symbol of the French Resistance.
At the end of the war, he was awarded with the "Croix de guerre 1939-1945" with bronze palms and the "
Médaille de la Résistance". As other members of the Resistance, his experience would mark him for life, teaching him the necessity of engaging himself to protect fundamental human rightsthrough legal means and, if need be, through a sort of civil disobediencedoctrine.
Political career (1945–51) and the 1960–70s
When the war was over, following de Gaulle's entourage's advice and the approbation of the
archbishop of Paris, Abbé Pierre was elected deputy for Meurthe-et-Moselle department in both National Constituent Assemblies in 1945–1946 as an independent close to the Popular Republican Movement(MRP), mainly consisting of Christian democratic members of the Resistance. In 1946, he was re-elected as a member of the National Assembly, but this time as a member of the MRP.
Abbé Pierre became vice-president of the
Confédération mondialein 1947, a universal federalist movement. He also co-founded with writers Albert Camusand André Gidethe support committee for Garry Davis, a world citizenwho tore apart his passport before the US embassy in a gesture of protest against nationalism. In 1945, he invited philosophers Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit inventor of the concept of the noosphere, and who wasn't in particularly good terms with the Roman Curia, and the Russian Nikolai Berdyaevat his home, but both men couldn't understand each other. He then met Albert Einsteinin Princeton in 1948, to discuss of the "three nuclear explosions" and call with him for a worldwide nuclear disarmamentmovement based on pacifism. Einstein would sign in 1955 the Russell-Einstein Manifestowhich called for international disarmament.
After a bloody accident resulting in the death of a blue-collar worker, Édouard Mazé, in Brest in 1950, Abbé Pierre decided to put an end to his MRP affiliation on
April 28, 1950, writing a letter titled "Pourquoi je quitte le MRP" ("Why I quit the MRP"), where he denounced the political and social attitude of the MRP party. He then joined the Christian socialistmovement named " Ligue de la jeune République", created in 1912 by Marc Sangnier, but decided to finally end his political career: in 1951, before the end of his mandate, he returned to his first vocation: to help homeless people. With the small indemnities he received as deputy, he invested in a run-down house near Paris in the wealthy Neuilly-Plaisanceneighbourhood. Astounding his neighbours, the priest began to repair the roof and the whole house, and finally made of it the first Emmaüs base (because, according to him, it was simply too big for one man alone).
Although the Abbé then put a definitive end to his involvement in representative politics, preferring to invest his energies in the Emmaus charity movement, he never completely abandoned the political field, taking strong stances on many and various subjects, not hesitating in scolding or at outright criticisms against what he saw as heartless decisions, nor in using the influence brought by the media to enforce causes which he supported.
Thus, when the
decolonizationmovement was slowly beginning to emerge in the whole world, he attempted in 1956 to convince Tunisian leader Habib Bourguibato obtain independence without using violence. Present in various international conferences at the end of the 1950s, he met Colombian priest Camilo Torres (1929-1966), a predecessor of Liberation theology, who asked for his advice on the Colombian Church's criticism of "workers' priests." He was also received by US president Eisenhower and Mohammed V of Moroccoin 1955 and 1956.
In 1962 he resided several months in
Charles de Foucauld's retreat in Béni-Abbés(Algeria).
The Abbé was then called to India in 1971 by
Jayaprakam Narayanto represent, along with the " Ligue des droits de l'homme" (Human Rights League) France in the issues of refugees. Indira Gandhithen invited him to deal with the question of Bengali refugees, and the Abbé founded Emmaus communities in Bengladesh.
1949: the origin
Emmaus ("Emmaüs" in French) was started in 1949. Its name is a reference to a village in
Palestineappearing in the Gospel of Luke, where two disciples extended hospitality to Jesusjust after his resurrection without recognizing him. In that way, Emmaus's mission is to help poor and homeless people. It is a secular organization.
In 1950 was created the first community of Emmaus companions in
Neuilly-Plaisanceclose to Paris in France.
The Emmaus community raises funds for the construction of housing by selling used goods. However, there were initial difficulties raising funds, so in 1952, Abbé Pierre decided to be a contestant on the Radio Luxembourg
game show"Quitte ou double" (Double or Nothing) for the prize money; he ended up winning 256,000 francs.
Winter 1954: "Uprising of kindness"
Abbé Pierre became famous during the extremely cold winter of 1954 in France, when
homelesspeople were dying in the streets. Following the failure of the projected law on lodgings, he gave a well-remembered speech on Radio Luxembourg on February 1, 1954, and asked the "Figaro", a conservative newspaper which, as he said, was read by "the powerful," to publish his call:
"My friends, come help... A woman froze to death tonight at 3:00 AM, on the pavement of Sebastopol Boulevard, clutching the eviction notice which the day before had made her homeless... Each night, more than two thousand succumb to the cold, dying without food, without bread, many almost naked..."
"Hear me; in the last three hours, two aid centers have been created: one under canvas at the foot of the
Panthéon, on Montagne Sainte-GenevièveStreet; the other in Courbevoie. They are already overflowing, we must open more, in every neighbourhood. Tonight, in every town in France, in every quarter of Paris, we must hang out placards in the night, under a lamp, at the door of places where there are blankets, straw, soup; where one may read, under the title 'Fraternal Aid Center', these simple words: 'If you suffer, whoever you are, enter, eat, sleep, recover hope, here you are loved"'.
"The forecast is for a month of freezing weather. For as long as the winter lasts, for as long as the centers exist, faced with their brothers dying in poverty, all mankind must be of one will: the will to make this situation impossible. I beg of you, let us love one another enough to do it now. From so much pain, let a wonderful thing be given unto us: the shared spirit of France. Thank you! Everyone can help those who are homeless. We need, tonight, and at the latest tomorrow, five thousand blankets, three hundred big American tents, and two hundred catalytic stoves. Bring them quickly to the Hôtel Rochester, number ninety-two,
la BoetieStreet. The rendez-vous for volunteers and trucks to carry them; tonight at eleven, in front of the tent on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. Thanks to you, no man, no child, will sleep on the asphalt or on the waterfronts of Paris tonight. " [ See [http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Appel_de_l%27Abb%C3%A9_Pierre l'Appel de l'Abbé Pierre] fr icon ]
"Thank you."The next morning, the press wrote of an "uprising of kindness" ("insurrection de la bonté") and the now-famous call for help ended up raising 500 million francs in donations (
Charlie Chaplingave 2 million). This enormous amount was totally unexpected; telephone operators and the postal service were overwhelmed, and owing to the volume of donations, several weeks were needed just to sort them out, distribute them, and find a place to stock them throughout the country. Moreover, this call attracted volunteers from all over the country to help them, including wealthy "bourgeoises" emotionally shook by the Abbé's call: first to do the redistribution, but then to duplicate the effort all around France. Quite quickly, Abbé Pierre had to organise his movement by creating the "Emmaus communities" on March 23, 1954.
In an Emmaus community, volunteers help homeless people by giving them accommodation, and somewhere to eat and work. A number of Emmaus volunteers are also formerly homeless people from all ages, religious or ethnic origins, and social backgrounds. The Abbé Pierre put special dedication in showing to desperate people that they too could help others, and thus that the weakest could still help even weaker people.
The Emmaus communities quickly took worldwide span. The Abbé traveled to
Beyrouth(Leibanon) in 1959, to assist to the creation of the first multiconfessional Emmaus group there, which was founded by a Sunnit (Muslim), a Melkite (Catholic) archbishop and a Maronite (Christian) writer.
1980s to 2000s
After the 1981 election of President
François Mitterrand(Socialist Party, PS) (during which he called for blank vote[ [http://www.liberation.fr/transversales/portraits/117684.FR.php L'Abbé ne fait pas le moine] , in " Libération", September 25, 2002(subscription - see also [http://www.denistouret.net/textes/abbe_Pierre.html here] ) fr icon ] ), the Abbé Pierre supported the initiative of the French Premier Laurent Fabius(PS) to create in 1984 the " Revenu minimum d'insertion" (RMI), a welfare system for indigents. [http://www.lefigaro.fr/magazine/20070126.WWW000000593_le_diable_et_le_bon_dieu.html Le diable et le Bon Dieu] , " Le Figaro", January 26, 2007 fr icon ]
The same year, he organized the operation "Charity Christmas", which, relayed by "
France Soir", brought 6 millions Francs and 200 tons of products. The actor Coluche, who had organized the charitable " Restos du Cœur", offered him 150 millions French cents received by his organisation. Coluche's huge success with the Restos du Cœur, caused by his popularity (Coluche had even tried to present himself to the 1981 presidential election before withdrawing), convinced Abbé Pierre once again of the necessity and value of such charitable struggles and the usefulness of the media in such endeavours.
In 1983, he talked with Italian President
Sandro Pertinito plead the cause of Vanni Mulinaris, imprisoned on charge of assistance to the Red Brigades(BR), and even observed eight days of hunger strikefrom May 26 to June 3, 1984in the Cathedral of Turin to protest against detention conditions of "Brigadists" in Italian prisons and the imprisonment without trial of Vanni Mulinaris, who was recognized innocent sometimes afterwards. [ [http://www.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/camt/fr/inventaires2000/2000050-2.html CAMT. Répertoire papiers Abbé Pierre/Emmaus] , on the website of the French " Archives Nationales" (National Archives) fr icon ] Italian magistrate Carlo Mastelloni recalled in the " Corriere della Sera" in 2007 that a niece of the Abbé was a secretary at Hyperion language school in Paris, directed by Vanni Mulinaris, and married to one of the Italians refugees then wanted by the Italian justice. [ [http://archivio.corriere.it/archiveDocumentServlet.jsp?url=/documenti_globnet/corsera/2007/01/co_9_070123007.xml «Quel giorno in Tribunale con lui Difese i terroristi rossi e l' Hyperion»] , " Corriere della Sera", January 23, 2007 it icon ] According to the "Corriere della Sera", it would even have been him who convinced then president François Mitterrand(PS) to grant protection from extradition to left-wing Italian activists who took refuge in France and had broken up with their past. [ [http://archivio.corriere.it/archiveDocumentServlet.jsp?url=/documenti_globnet/corsera/2007/01/co_9_070123006.xml Abbé Pierre, il frate ribelle che scelse gli emarginati] , " Corriere della Sera", January 23, 2007 it icon ]
More than 20 years later, the
ANSA, Italian press agency, recalled that he had supported in 2005 one of his physicians, Michele d'Auria, who was a former member of " Prima Linea", an Italian far-left group, and was accused of having participated to hold-ups in 1990. As many other Italian activists, he had exiled himself to France during the " years of lead," and then joined the Emmaus companions. [ [http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/politiques/230519.FR.php D'inattendues amitiés brigadistes] , " Libération", January 24, 2007fr icon ] " La Repubblica" specified that Italian justice has recognized the innocence of all people close to the Hyperion School [ AFP news cable: "ROME, 23 January 2007 (AFP) - L'Abbé Pierre et les Brigades rouges italiennes: un épisode méconnu" (23/01/2007 16:25), published on " La Croix's website [http://www.la-croix.com/afp.static/pages/070123152331.3hduui9h.htm here] fr icon ] However it is only a matter of conjunctures to see any relation between this 2005 intervention in favor of an Emmaus companion and his support in the 1980s for strong guarantees in favor of Italian political refugees, since the philosophy of the Emmaus movement in itself is to accept anyone willing to work in the community at helping others, without any restrictions concerning one's individual past.
Following Abbé Pierre's death in January 2007, Italian magistrate Carlo Mastelloni declared to the "
Corriere della Sera" that during the abduction of Aldo MoroAbbé Pierre had gone to the Christian Democrats' headquarters on "piazza del Gesù" (Jesus Place) in Rome in an attempt to speak with its secretary Benigno Zaccagnini, in favor of a "hard line" of refusal of negotiations along with the BR. [ [http://archivio.corriere.it/archiveDocumentServlet.jsp?url=/documenti_globnet/corsera/2007/01/co_9_070123007.xml «Quel giorno in Tribunale con lui Difese i terroristi rossi e l' Hyperion»] , " Corriere della Sera", January 23, 2007 it icon ]
The Abbé Pierre then met in 1988 representatives of the
International Monetary Fund(IMF) to discuss the difficult financial, monetary and human issues brought by the huge Third World debt(starting in 1982, Mexico had announced it could not pay the service of its debt, triggering the 1980s Latin American debt crisis).
In the 1990s, the Abbé criticized the apartheid regime in South Africa. In 1995, after a three-year long
siege of Sarajevo, he went there to exhort nations of the world to put an end to the violences, and requested French military operation against the Serbs positions in Bosnia.
The Abbé did not hesitate in calling
real estatedevelopers "salopards" ("assholes") or in chaining himself to the grills of the Church of Saint-Ambroisein Paris, in a gesture of solidarity, along with illegal aliens ("sans-papiers", litt. "without documents." Supporting the DAL NGO in favor of requisition of empty lodgings and of squatting, the Abbé made enemies among conservatives, declaring that "Chirac is incapable of governing" or that " Alain Juppé[French Premier in charge during the 1995 general strikes ] is a liar."
Gulf War(1990–91), the Abbé directly addressed himself to US President George H. W. Bushand Iraq President Saddam Hussein. He also asked to French president François Mitterrand to engage himself in matters concerning refugees, in particular by the creation of a stronger organism than the current UN High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR). He also encountered this year the Dalai Lama during inter-religious peace encounters.
A staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, he has attracted attention with some of his statements on the
Israeli-Palestine conflict[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6288409.stm Nation to honour French activist] , " BBC", January 22, 2007en icon ] One of his most controversial act, and possibly only smear on his career, was his support "à titre amical" ("in title of friendship") for Roger Garaudyin 1996. The "Garaudy Affair" had been revealed in January 1996 by the "Canard enchaîné" satirical newspaper, which prompted a series of denunciations against his book, "The Foundational Myths of Israeli Politics," and led Garaudy to be charged of negationism (before being convicted in 1998, under the 1990 Gayssot Act). But Garaudy provoked public indignation when he announced in March that he was supported by the Abbé Pierre, who was immediately excluded from the honour committee of the LICRA(International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism). The Abbé Pierre then condemned those who tried to "negate, banalize or falsify the Shoah," but his continued support to Garaudy as a friend was criticized by all anti-racist, Jewish organisations ( MRAP, CRIF, Anti-Defamation League, etc.) and the Church hierarchy. [ [http://www.humanite.presse.fr/journal/1996-05-02/1996-05-02-751113 L’abbé Pierre exclu de la LICRA] , " L'Humanité", May 2, 1996fr icon ] His friend Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières(MSF), criticized him for "absolving the intolerable, [ [http://www.humanite.presse.fr/journal/1996-04-30/1996-04-30-751021 L’abbé Pierre persiste et s’exclut de la LICRA] , " L'Humanité", April 30, 1996fr icon ] " while Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger(and archbishop of Paris from 1981 to 2005) publicly disavowed him. [ [http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/actualites/societe/20070122.OBS8073 L'ami du révisionniste Garaudy] , " Le Nouvel Observateur", January 27, 2007fr icon ] The Abbé then went into retreat in the Benedictinemonastery of Pragliain Italy, near Padua, [ See ] where, according to the Voltaire Network, he would have met again Roger Garaudy. The Voltaire Network wrote that the Abbé had declared to the " Corriere della Sera" that the French press was "inspired by an international Zionistlobby". [ [http://www.voltairenet.org/article2475.html L’abbé Pierre et Roger Garaudy continuent leur campagne antisémite] , " Voltaire Network", June 10, 1996fr icon ] [http://humanite.fr/journal/2007-01-23/2007-01-23-844445 L'insurgé de la bonté] , " L'Humanité", January 23, 2007fr icon ] In the film documentary "Un abbé nommé Pierre, une vie au service des autres", the Abbé declared that his support had been towards the person of Roger Garaudy, and not towards his statements in his book, which he had not read. This latter justification has been criticized by those underlining that the Abbé Pierre usually took the time to think and meditate enough to forge his opinion thoughtfully and on his own.
On the other hand, the curator of the Deportation and Resistance Museum of the
Isèredepartment where Henri Grouès carried on most of his Resistant activities declared that the abbé would have merited ten times to be named Righteous Among the Nationsfor his struggle in favor of Jews during Vichy. [http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/societe/230198.FR.php Il aurait mérité dix fois d'être fait "Juste parmi les nations"] , testimony of Jean-Claude Duclos, curator of the Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de l’Isère, in " Libération", January 25, 2007fr icon ]
Following this 1996 controversial support to a personal acquaintance, the Abbé was shunned for a small period by the media, although the Abbé remained a popular figure. In 2004, he went to Algeria after the rebuilding of lodgings by the Fondation Abbé Pierre, following the 2003 earthquake which destroyed parts of the country.
Positions on the Church hierarchy and the Vatican's policies
Abbé Pierre has also been somewhat controversial, first of all because of his positions towards the Church and the Vatican. His positions concerning social issues and engagements, at times explicitly left-wing, have made him both controversial and popular. The Abbé Pierre also maintained a relationship with the progressive French Catholic Bishop Jacques Gaillot, to which he recalled his duty of "instinct of a measured insolence", [http://www.lefigaro.fr/magazine/20070126.WWW000000593_le_diable_et_le_bon_dieu.html Le diable et le Bon Dieu] , "
Le Figaro", January 26, 2007fr icon ] and wasn't personally close to Mother Teresa. He had difficult relations with the Vatican and the Church hierarchy, which was made apparent by " L'Osservatore Romano", Vatican's newspaper's silence following his death in January 2007, and the lack of any public statement immediately following his death from Pope Benedict XVI. Father Lombardi, spokesman of the Vatican, sent journalists to the statement made by the French Church, while Benedict XVI only alluded to the visit of Montenegro's embassador to the Vatican. The only official reactions from the Church came in two interviews of French cardinals, Roger Etchegarayand Paul Poupard. The Abbé Pierre's critics of the lavish lifestyle of the Vatican, "i.e." when he reproached John Paul IIhis expensive travels, or his provocative stances, for example by signing his Memoirs, were not well seen. Cardinal Secretary of StateBertone finally gave grace to the Abbé more than 24 hours after his death, by lauding his "action in favor of poor": [ [http://www.marianne-en-ligne.fr/e-docs/00/00/D1/61/document_une.phtml L’abbé Pierre: un prêtre gênant même après sa mort] , " Marianne", January 23, 2007fr icon ] "Informed of the death of Abbe Pierre, the Holy Father gives thanks for his activity in favor of the poorest, by which he bore witness to the charity that comes from Christ. Entrusting to divine mercy this priest whose whole life was dedicated to fighting poverty, he asks the Lord to welcome him into the peace of His kingdom. By way of comfort and hope, His Holiness sends you a heartfelt apostolic blessing, which he extends to the family of the departed, to members of the communities of Emmaus, and to everyone gathering for the funeral."Fact|date=February 2007
Hence, some conservatives have criticized his support to the
ordination of women, [ [http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/5614/29/ FRENCH CHAMPION OF HOMELESS DIES AGED 94] , by Delphine Strauss, " The Financial Times", January 22, 2007AND English transl. of " Le Monde" obituary, "ABBÉ PIERRE, FOUNDER OF EMMAÜS, IS DEAD", January 23, 2007( [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3382,36-857943@51-857899,0.html original article here] en icon/fr icon] and married clergy, stances which — according to BBCallegations — have made him popular among the French population. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6288409.stm Nation to honour French activist] , " BBC", January 22, 2007en icon ] In his book "Mon Dieu... pourquoi?" (God... Why?, 2005), co-written with Frédéric Lenoir, he implicitly admitted once having had casual sex with a woman despite his vow of clerical celibacyin the Capuchin Order. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1602564,00.html Sex confessions of 'living saint' shock France] , " The Guardian", October 28, 2005en icon ] [ [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2cc534fe-aa35-11db-83b0-0000779e2340.html French champion of homeless dies aged 94] , " The Financial Times", January 22, 2007 ] The book also supports parenting and adoption by homosexual couples, but does not support homosexual marriage. The Abbé also opposed the Pope's policy against contraceptivesconcerning the AIDS pandemic. [http://www.lefigaro.fr/magazine/20070126.WWW000000593_le_diable_et_le_bon_dieu.html Le diable et le Bon Dieu] , " Le Figaro", January 26, 2007 fr icon ]
Abbé Pierre also had the distinction of having been voted France's most popular person for many years, though in 2003 he was surpassed by
Zinedine Zidane, moving into second place. [ [http://www.ifop.com/europe/sondages/OPINIONF/top50persoaout2005.asp Le Top 50 des personnalités - Août 2005 ] ] In 2005 Abbé Pierre came third in a television poll to choose " Le Plus Grand Français" (The Greatest Frenchman).
In 1998, he has been made Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec while in 2004, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor by
Abbé Pierre was also awarded the
Balzan Prizefor Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood among Peoples in 1991 "for having fought, throughout his life, for the defence of human rights, democracy and peace. For having entirely dedicated himself to helping to relieve spiritual and physical suffering. For having inspired – regardless of nationality, race or religion – universal solidarity with the Emmaus Communities."Fact|date=February 2007
Accidents and health problems
He was regularly sick, particularly in the lungs when he was young. He was left unscathed in several dangerous situations:
* In 1950, while on a flight in India, he survived when his plane had to make an emergency landing due to engine failure.
* In 1963, his boat shipwrecked in the
Río de la Plata, between Argentina and Uruguay. He survived by clinging to a wooden part of the boat, while around him 80 passengers died. Later on, while on a trip to Algiers, he showed the pocket knife, which had enabled him to survive this adventure. He was full of gratitude also for the children lodged at an orphanage, and asked the cardinal archbishop of Algiers, Monseigneur Duval, to help out the orphanage (or Kasbah).
All of these experiences together created the image of Abbé Pierre being a "miraculé".
The Abbé Pierre remained active until his death on
22 January, 2007in the Val-de-Grâce military hospital in Paris, following a lung infection, aged 94. ["Abbe Pierre, French campaigner for the poor, dies," REUTERSnews cable of Mon January 22, 2007 4:50am, ET31 - Temporarily available [http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2007-01-22T094927Z_01_L22731467_RTRUKOC_0_US-FRANCE-ABBEPIERRE.xml&WTmodLoc=IntNewsHome_C2_worldNews-6 here] en icon ] He visited and was present on most social struggles, in favor of illegal aliens, homeless ("Enfants de Don Quichotte" movement end of 2006-start of 2007) and social movements in favor of requisitions of empty buildings and offices ( squatts), etc. He continued to read each day " La Croix", the Christian social daily newspaper. [ [http://www.lefigaro.fr/magazine/20070126.MAG000000512_notre_hommage.html L'abbé Pierre, l'insurgé de Dieu] , "Le Figaro Magazine", January 26, 2007 fr icon ] In January 2007, he went to the National Assembly to oppose himself to deputies who would try to empty the law on lodging for homeless people, decided by President Jacques Chirac after the mobilization by the "Enfants de Don Quichotte" NGO. Following his death, the Minister of Social Cohesion Jean-Louis Borloo(UMP) decided to give the Abbé Pierre's name to the law, despite the latter's scepticism on the real value and use of the law. [ [http://humanite.fr/journal/2007-01-23/2007-01-23-844505 Le nom de l’Abbé Pierre réquisitionné par Borloo] , " L'Humanité", January 23, 2007fr icon ] In 2005 he had opposed conservative deputies who wanted to reform the Gayssot Act on housing projects ("loi SRU"), which impose a 20% housing projects limits in each town lest they pay a penalty fine. [http://humanite.fr/journal/2007-01-23/2007-01-23-844445 L'insurgé de la bonté] , " L'Humanité", January 23, 2007fr icon ]
After the visit by officials, several hundreds anonyms Parisians (among them professor
Albert Jacquard, who struggled with the Abbé for the cause of homelessness) went to the Val-de-Grâce's chapel to see the Abbé Pierre's corpse. [ [http://www.lefigaro.fr/france/20070124.WWW000000359_dernier_hommage_a_labbe_pierre.html Des centaines de Parisiens venus saluer l'abbé Pierre] , " Le Figaro", January 24, 2007 fr icon ] His burial on January 26 2007at the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was attended by numerous distinguished people: President Jacques Chirac, former President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Prime minister Dominique de Villepin, many French Ministers, and of course many Companions of Emmaus, those last one were placed at the front of the crowd and the wellknown people in the cathedral, according to Abbé Pierre's last wishes. He was buried in a cemetery in Esteville, a small village in Seine-Maritimein which he used to live. [ [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3382,36-859915@51-857899,0.html L'abbé Pierre inhumé dans l'intimité] , " Le Monde" (with the Agence France-Presse, January 25, 2007— actualized on January 26) fr icon ] Cardinal Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, evoked a possible beatification, but it seems unlikely in a near future. [ [http://www.la-croix.com/article/index.jsp?docId=2293323&rubId=11641 L'abbé Pierre, "une des plus belles figures évangéliques du siècle"] , interview with Pierre Lunel, biographer of the Abbé Pierre, in " La Croix", January 26, 2007fr icon]
*Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor in 2004
**"Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1992"
**"Commander of the Legion of Honor in 1987"
**"Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1981"
*Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with bronze palms
Médaille de la Résistance
*Grand Officers of the National Order of Quebec
*Many others international distinctions
A well-known priest
During his life Abbé Pierre met Popes
Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII and John Paul IIa few times, but wasn't able to meet Pope Benedict XVI. According to his official biography, he also met many notable people, including French president Charles de Gaulleas soon as 1944, Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba, US president Dwight David Eisenhower, Indian Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehruand Indira Gandhi, socialist Jayaprakash Narayan, comedian Coluche, president François Mitterrand, president Jacques Chiracand Mohammed V of Morocco.
He has written many books and articles, including a book for children aged over ten, titled "C'est quoi la mort?". Many of his publications are translated into English. All
authors' rights(books, discs and videos) are versed to the "Fondation Abbé Pierre" concerning lodging and accommodations for those lacking these fundamental rights.
* 1987: "Bernard Chevallier interroge l’abbé Pierre: Emmaüs ou venger l’homme", with Bernard Chevalier, éd. LGF/Livre de Poche, Paris. — ISBN 2253041513.
* 1988: "Cent poèmes contre la misère", éd. Le Cherche-midi, Paris — ISBN 2862741418.
* 1993: "Dieu et les hommes", with Bernard Kouchner, éd. Robert Laffont — ISBN 2221076184.
* 1994: "Testament…" — ISBN 2724281039. Réédition 2005, éd. Bayard/Centurion, Paris — ISBN 2227475323.
* 1994: "Une terre et des hommes", éd. Cerf, Paris.
* 1994: "Absolu", éd. Seuil, Paris.
* 1996: "Dieu merci", éd. Fayard/Centurion, Paris.
* 1996: "Le bal des exclus", éd. Fayard, Paris.
* 1997: "Mémoires d’un croyant", éd. Fayard, Paris.
* 1999: "Fraternité", éd. Fayard, Paris.
* 1999: "Paroles", éd. Actes Sud, Paris.
* 1999: "C’est quoi la mort?",
* 1999: "J’attendrai le plaisir du Bon Dieu: l’intégrale des entretiens d’Edmond Blattchen", éd. Alice, Paris.
* 2000: "En route vers l’absolu", éd.
* 2001: "La Planète des pauvres. Le tour du monde à vélo des communautés Emmaüs", de Louis Harenger, Louis Harenger, Michel Friedman, Emmaüs international, Abbé Pierre, éd. J’ai lu, Paris — ISBN 2290309990.
* 2002: "Confessions", éd.
Albin Michel, Paris — ISBN 2226130519.
* 2002: "Je voulais être marin, missionnaire ou brigand", rédigé avec Denis Lefèvre, éd. Le Cherche-midi, Paris — ISBN 2749100151. Réédition en livre de poche, éd. J’ai lu, Paris — ISBN 2290342211.
* 2004: "L'Abbé Pierre, la construction d’une légende", by Philippe Falcone, éd. Golias — ISBN 2914475497.
* 2004: "L'Abbé Pierre parle aux jeunes", with Pierre-Roland Saint-Dizier, éd. Du Signe, Paris — ISBN 2746812576.
* 2005: "Le sourire d’un ange", éd. Elytis, Paris.
* 2005: "Mon Dieu... pourquoi ? Petites méditations sur la foi chrétienne et le sens de la vie", with
Frédéric Lenoir, éd. Plon— ISBN 2259201407.
* 2006: "Servir : Paroles de vie", with Albine Navarino, éd. Presses du Châtelet, Paris — ISBN 2845921861.
Discography (interviews, etc.)
* 2001: "Radioscopie: Abbé Pierre - Entretien avec Jacques Chancel", CD Audio - ASIN B00005NK45.
* 1988-2003: "Éclats De Voix", suite de CD Audio, Poèmes et réflexions, en 4 volumes:
** Vol. 1: "Le Temps des Catacombes", rééd. label Celia - ASIN B00005R2LK.
** Vol. 2: "Hors de Soi", rééd. label Celia - ASIN B00005R2LL.
** Vol. 3: "Corsaire de Dieu", rééd. label Celia - ASIN B00005R2LM.
** Vol. 4: "?", label Scalen - ASIN B00004VAP4.
* 2005: Le CD "Testament...", pour fêter le 56e anniversaire de la Fondation d'Emmaüs (réflexions personnelles, textes et paroles inspirées de la
Bible) - ISBN 2227475323.
* 2005: "Avant de partir...", le testament audio de l’Abbé Pierre, CD audio et vidéos pour PC, prières et musiques de méditation - ASIN B000CCZ2PE.
* 2006: "L’Insurgé de l’amour", label Revues Bayard, Paris - ASIN B000EQHSPU.
* 2006: "Paroles de Paix de l’Abbé Pierre", CD audio, label Fremeux - ASIN B0001GLG2Y.
* 1955: "
Les Chiffonniers d'Emmaüs" de Robert Darèneavec Pierre Mondy.
* 1989: "
Hiver 54, l'abbé Pierre" de Denis Amaravec Lambert Wilsondans le rôle de L'abbé Pierre et Claudia Cardinale. Film rediffusé le jour de sa mort, en son hommage, sur la chaîne de télévision publique France 2.
* 2005: "Vous direz à vos enfants... Le plus beau témoignage sur la beauté du don", DVD PAL (région 2), entretien avec l’abbé Pierre, studio LCJ Éditions, Paris - ASIN B000BU9OVA.
* "Les chiffonniers d’Emmaüs dans: Alain comme les autres", DVD PAL (région 2), documentaire-fiction de Denise Gilliand, avec Jean-Quentin châtelin, l’Abbé Pierre et les Compagnons d’Emmaüs, studio VPS - ASIN B000IOMRE0.
* 2007: "Paroles - Abbé Pierre", 2 x DVD PAL, séries d'entretiens avec l'Abbé Pierre. Rencontres avec
Johnny Hallyday, Zinédine Zidaneet le Dalai Lama. Edition Emmaüs Genève - Artémis Films Productions.
machine translationprograms freely available on-line."
Henri de Lubac
Popular Republican Movement(MRP) and " Ligue de la jeune République"
Homelessness, squatts, charity and non-violence
* [http://www.fondation-abbe-pierre.fr/accueil.php Fondation Abbé Pierre]
* [http://www.emmaus-international.org/ Emmaus International]
* [http://www.balzan.it International Balzan Foundation]
* [http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/5614/29/ Obituary in "Le Monde" (Paris),
January 23, 2007 (English translation)]
7 January1954 call for homeless people] , published in " Le Figaro" ( January 22, 2007)
* [http://atheisme.free.fr/Revue_presse/Mort_abbe_pierre.htm French review of press titles for his death]
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