France has bid farewell to its most famous cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger in a ceremony at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral. Cardinal Lustiger died from cancer on Sunday at the age of 80. President Nicolas Sarkozy interrupted his holidays in the chic US resort of Wolfboro to attend the funeral, but will be returning immediately for an informal lunch which his American counterpart on Saturday. Born a Jew to Polish refugees, Lustiger converted to Catholocism during the war, when he was hidden from the Nazis in Catholic boarding schools. His mother died in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. He was a close aide to former Pope John Paul who appointed him bishop of Orleans, then archbishop of Paris. He became cardinal in 1983. An early champion of interfaith relations, he was, like John Paul, a conservative and was opposed to abortion, the ordination of women and married men to the priesthood. Cardinal Lustiger will be laid to rest in the archbishop’s crypt at Notre Dame in line with tradition.
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