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France Fran├žois Hollande Manuel Valls Xi Jinping Catholic Church Press review

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French weekly magazine review 20 March 2016


The front covers of this week's magazines can hardly be described as light-hearted. The  sex-abuse scandal that has shaken the French Catholic Church, a bitter rivalry between president President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls and an increasingly dominant China have all come under scrutiny.


This week L’Obs seems to be take immense pleasure in peaking behind the scenes at the heart of France's government, where, it says, a bitter rivalry is slowly unfolding.

The magazine claims that President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls are at each others' throats.

“Which one will kill the other?” L'Obs asks on the front cover and its five-page article is no less dramatic.

It describes life at Matignon, the office of France’s prime minister, as a living hell, since Hollande seems keen to let Valls take the political blows in the storm of protests surrounding France’s planned new labour law.

"Valls has become Hollande’s personal punching ball," according to L'Obs, which claims that Hollande is using prime minister as a shock absorber against the storm of criticism coming from the left.

To make matters worse, sources close to Valls say he is being forced to backtrack on the labour law by a president he sees as far too prudent.

L'Obs also describes a violent clash of personalities.

For Valls and his entourage, Hollande reportedly appears to lack political identity.

As for Hollande, apparently he does not take kindly to Valls’s authoritarian persona.

It seems as if the pair have only one thing in common: a fear of paying the political price for the government’s record impopularity and the desire to be the Socialist candidate in next year’s presidential election.

French Catholic church in paedophilia storm

Marianne jumps head first into the sex-abuse scandal involving the Catholic church in France and does not mince its words.

The left-wing weekly goes over the recent revelations about Cardinal Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, who is accused of trying to cover up acts of peaodophilia committed by French priests under his authority.

Marianne comes out with all guns blazing and describes the Catholic church as an institution in regression.

“Today, in France,” it says, “the Church is one great sick body.”

Church-goers turning to far right?

Sex abuse is not the only reproach the magazine has to make.

It believes that increasingly radical right-wing views.

Marianne reminds its readers of the massive demonstrations and homophobic discourse of some church members when gay marriage was made legal in France three years ago.

According to one article, the National Front is making tremendous progress among church-goers, 32 percent of whom reportedly voted for the far right in last year's regional elections.

In10 pages dedicated to the subject Marianne does not have anything positive to say, apart from the observation that the Catholic Church in France was not always that bad.

There was a time, it says, when the Church "fed intellectual debates", and "brought life to organisations".

China plans to keep rising

Right-wing Le Point takes us to China, which it says is about to revamp its economy and expand its military influence.

"The Empire strikes," reads its headline.

In 20 pages dedicated to the world's second superpower, Le Point says the country's mysterious leader, Xi Jinping, is preparing a gigantic economic mutation from a model based on exports to one more solidly based on domestic consumption.

As its fleet expands surreptitiously across the Pacific Ocean, China's military ambitions are also growing fast, Le Point says.

Le Point portrays Xi Jinping himself as an ambitious and forceful reformer, impatient for China to grow into the world superpower it seems destined to become.

The magazine draws the portrait of a modern-day Mao Tse-tung, who turns journalists into groupies and subjects his critics to public confessions.