Former French President Jacques Chirac was given official honours from France’s Catholic hierarchy during his funeral in Paris on 30 September.
Chirac died last week at the age of 86. He served two terms as president and twice as prime minister.
“President Jacques Chirac left his mark on the French people through his energy, his taste for human contacts, and ability to face adversity,” the French Bishops’ conference said. They wished to join “his dear ones and all French people in order to commemorate his generous service to his country and to confide him to the light of the God of mercy who sees deep into man’s heart.”
Although Chirac remained a devout Catholic until his death, he was prime minister when abortion was legalised in France in 1975.
Pope Francis sent an official note of condolence to President Emmanuel Macron.
“I pray fervently to the Lord that He may welcome the deceased in His peace, and that He may assure to all those who mourn his death, especially his wife and family, the comfort of hope,“ he said.
During the funeral Mass, which took place at the Saint-Sulpice church, Archbishop Michel Aupetit highlighted Chirac’s role in building fraternity.
“President Jacques Chirac focused his 1995 campaign on the theme of the social divide, thus focusing on those who remain by the roadside,” the archbishop said.
“One of the roles of the Church is to build fraternity, the fraternity which is one of the three pillars of our Republic and which makes it possible to build true unity among us.”
World leaders past and present attended the funeral, including Vladimir Putin, Bill Clinton and all three living former presidents of France – Giscard d’Estaing, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande.
The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, attended the service on behalf of the British royal family.
The archbishop paid tribute to Chirac’s ecological awareness, a cause which Pope Francis highlighted in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ and which remains a key issue in contemporary politics.
“‘To govern is to foresee:’ this famous quote from Émile de Girardin was illustrated several times by President Jacques Chirac. In September 2002, at the Earth Summit, before today’s strong ecological awareness, he said, ‘Our house is burning and we are looking elsewhere,’” he said.
Chirac is buried next to his elder daughter, Laurence, who had anorexia for most of her adult life and who died at the age of 58.