French bishops will fight same-sex marriage
November 14th, 2012
By Catholic News Service
OXFORD, England – French bishops and a prominent lay group vowed to resist the government’s proposed legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt.
“The firm position we’ve taken on this legal transformation has caused many waves – the reactions, more diverse than we imagined, have revealed real unease among fellow citizens,” said Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, president of the French bishops’ conference.
The president of France’s National Federation of Catholic Family Associations, Antoine Renard, said opponents would do “everything necessary” to block the legislation, including staging protests and pressuring their legislators and local mayors.
Speaking at the closing session of the French bishops’ autumn plenary at the Marian shrine in Lourdes, France, Nov. 8, Cardinal Vingt-Trois said he knew the bishops would be accused of homophobia.
“Denouncing the fraud of same-sex marriage does not prevent us from understanding the need homosexuals feel for recognition, a need this supposed marriage will not satisfy,” the Paris-based cardinal said.
He said personal attacks on opponents of the bill suggested some French citizens “had difficulty accepting a real debate,” adding that he believed children had been “the big absent element” in the discussion.
“Numerous initiatives are already being taken by citizens, believers or not, to oppose this government bill – many Catholics are engaging with people of other ways of thinking and other religions,” Cardinal Vingt-Trois said.
“Let this country’s Catholics know their bishops are encouraging them to speak, write, act and demonstrate. They have a right to testify to what, in the light of faith and the logic of reason and good sense, seems essential to them,” he said.
The draft same-sex marriage bill was presented by Justice Minister Christiane Taubira at the Nov. 7 Cabinet meeting and is to be debated in January by France’s National Assembly.
Welcoming the measure, President Francois Hollande said it represented “progress for all society” in France, where Catholics traditionally make up two-thirds of the population of 60 million.
Renard said the law would “almost certainly” necessitate the close of Catholic adoption agencies, like a similar 2007 law in Britain, and lead to the staging of gay weddings in churches, which are mostly government-owned in France.
“A move like this in France will have important, influential consequences worldwide. I think we can convince people by January that it will change everything in our society,” Renard told Catholic News Service.
From November 16, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.