France’s President Francois Hollande has weighed this weekend into the war of words between his government and the Catholic Church over holding discussions in schools on the planned legalisation of same-sex marriage.
He defended Education Minister Vincent Peillon on Saturday for urging Catholic schools, which teach about one-fifth of all pupils in France, to stay neutral in the debate.
Peillon’s supporters and critics dominated the headlines and airwaves on Sunday, a week before a Church-backed protest in Paris that organisers say could draw as many as half a million people opposed to any change in traditional marriage.
The shrill polemics could not drown out another big news story, the growing unpopularity of Hollande and his government. One poll said 75 percent of voters doubt he can keep a New Year’s promise to turn around rising unemployment this year.