I don’t know why the Abbé Pierre was so famous in France. Some say he captured people’s imaginations because he was the perfect embodiment of the apostolate, this scrawny man with his big beard always wearing the same black cassock, given to him one day by a fireman. Some say it was because of his frequent provocative public statements, against homelessness mostly, but also quite frequently against the French government. My generation liked him because he was so much less turgid than most of the public figures we grew up with (most of whom are still around). They say he twice told Le Pen, “Ta gueule”. « De temps en temps, faire ce qui ne se fait pas, ça fait du bien, » he said. He was once booed on television during a show about HIV/Aids when he said that the best remedy was fidelity in love, but he also made public statements in favour of condom use. All in all, few would deny that he was a good man.
« Il ne faut pas attendre d'être parfait pour commencer quelque chose de bien. »
-- Abbé Pierre