Source: The New York Times
On April 8, 2005 The New York Times reported, "France may be a predominantly Roman Catholic country, but it is also officially secular, with separation of church and state one of its most sacred tenets.
So while the death of Pope John Paul II has brought widespread mourning, there has also been pressure on the French Republic not to honor him officially.
For the moment, the political instinct to please voters has won out: the government is marking the pope's passing in a variety of ways across France, and President Jacques Chirac and his wife, Bernadette, will attend the funeral Mass at the Vatican on Friday.
But defenders of the country's republican tradition as well as some foes of the center-right government have charged that by doing so, the French state is violating a 100-year-old law dictating church-state separation. They contend that any gesture that gives the appearance of favoring one religion over another is forbidden."