On March 4, 2007, French TV news ended with the announcement of the death of Noël Copin, retired editor of La Croix, the French Catholic daily newspaper, which has a circulation of a hundred thousand. Moving tributes were issued by government officials, representatives of the major political parties, and in Le Monde. Three bishops attended Copin’s packed funeral in Versailles.
Why all this for the editor of a daily paper founded in 1883 by the Assumptionist Fathers? A paper that in 1890, during the Dreyfus trial, described itself as “the most anti-Jewish Catholic paper in France”? That La Croix had long abandoned such prejudice was well demonstrated in 1994 when the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations held a meeting in Paris to mark the Dreyfus centennial, and “our friend Noël Copin, editor of La Croix” was introduced to a wide burst of applause.
Copin was born in 1929 in Eastern France, in the town of Besançon. He attended the local university where he became active in the Young Christian Student movement. His first job was with a newspaper in Nancy; a few years later he moved to Paris to work for La Croix, which by then the Assumptionists had largely handed over to professional lay journalists.
After serving as an Army reserve officer in Algeria in 1956, Copin returned to cover the war for independence...