• France's news in English

Inter-faith advocate to lead French Catholics

Dan MacGuill · 17 Apr 2013, 14:03

Published: 17 Apr 2013 14:03 GMT+02:00

Pontier, 69, has been Archbishop of Marseille since 2006, and will replace outgoing president André Vingt-Trois, the Archbishop of Paris who has been an outspoken critic of plans to legalise gay-marriage.

Pontier awas elected for a three-year term on Wednesday, as part of this week’s plenary assembly of the Bishops’ Conference in the French capital. He will commence his duties on July 1st, according to French Catholic newspaper La Croix.

A private yet “affable and accessible” man, according to La Croix, Pontier has also made a point of “walking the streets” of Marseille’s notoriously crime and poverty-stricken northern districts in recent years, meeting and talking with local shopkeepers and community leaders.

SEE ALSO: ‘The Catholic Church is too powerful in France.’

“He carries out his life of faith in a disconcertingly simple and easy way,” Remi Caucanas, from the Catholic Institute for the Mediterranean, told La Croix.

Pontier has a reputation for inter-faith dialogue, particularly with France’s Muslim community – to the extent that he was attacked in 2010 by a far-right politician for his willingness to share dialogue with France's Muslim leaders.

The Archbishop of Marseille was the unanimous choice for the position on Wednesday, according to TF1 television.

Born in Lavaur, southern France in 1943, Pontier was ordained a Catholic priest in 1966, and in 1988 became Bishop of the diocese of Digne, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department of south-eastern France.

Story continues below…

Though France does not permit official statistics on religious affiliation, it is estimated that Catholics form 64 percent of the population, or 41.5 million, according to AFP, making theirs the largest religious group in the country.

Nearly two out of three of the French people around 41 million describe themselves as Catholic but less than five percent, around 1.9 million regularly attend church.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Thousands of travellers face seven-day Air France strike
Photo: mariordo59/Flickr

The strike is set to run from July 27th to August 2nd and as many as 130,000 passengers could be affected.

No, Dover travel chaos wasn't French revenge for Brexit

What a load of Brex**it. Resources, not revenge, is the big issue for the French.

The worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
A French motorway. Photo: Maelick/Flickr

Don't get caught out by these common ploys gangs of thieves have used to target motorists in France.

Hoax bomb found at Paris Metro station
Photo: AFP

Bomb squad called in to a Paris Metro station after the discovery of a bag with a walkie-talkie antenna and red wires sticking out.

Five key moments in Chris Froome' Tour de France win
The victorious Christopher Froome. Photo: AFP

Here are the key moments that earned Christopher Froome his third Tour de France victory.

Terror attack in Nice
Policewoman's Nice claims leave government in crisis
Photo: AFP

The pressure is mounting on the French government after a policewoman claimed she was pressured to change her report over security measures in Nice on the night of the July 14th attack.

15-hour tailbacks in UK as France heightens checks
The local Kent Police force said there was a 12-mile tailback, which it put down to a “vast volume of holiday traffic”. Photo: AFP

British officials were drafted in to help French border police on Sunday after 15-hour queues built up at the port of Dover due to heightened entry checks.

15 injured in Welsh bus accident in France
The bus ended on its side in a ditch. Two helicopters were dispatched to the site. Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Fifteen people were injured, two of them seriously, when a bus carrying teenagers from Wales rolled over on a motorway in eastern France on Saturday, the local gendarmerie said.

Libya armed groups urge fight against French troops
Dozens of protesters rallied Friday outside the GNA’s former headquarters in a Tripoli navy base. Photo: AFP

Armed groups including Islamists have urged Libyans to mobilise against French and other foreign troops deployed in the country, denouncing their presence as a “blatant aggression”.

EgyptAir flight broke up midair after fire: report
The Airbus A320 was en route from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean. Photo: AFP

An EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean in May likely broke up in midair after a fire erupted in or near the cockpit, the New York Times has reported.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Nice attack: What we know so far
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
'Very Stupid' village in France honoured for its silly name
Ten crazy things to do in France if you dare
Paris: an obstacle course for wheelchair users
Brits ignore Brexit fears to make dream move to France
jobs available