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Deliver us from gay marriage, says French Catholic prayer

AFP/Stephane De Sakutin
3 min

The Catholic Church in France has been accused of interfering in politics and stirring up homophobia because of a prayer read out in churches on Wednesday, the feast of Assumption.

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The prayer, sent out to churches by Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, was recited in most of France’s Catholic places of worship, including the sanctuary at Lourdes where 20,000 people were assembled.

It calls on God to ensure that “those recently elected to legislate” prioritise “the common good” over “individual demands” and called for children “fully benefit from the love of a father and mother”.

The church has publicly opposed President François Hollande’s election commitment to legalise gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples but the prayer, to be recited on a key day in the Catholic calendar, has caused a stir by taking that opposition into places of worship.

Lyon Archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin on Tuesday told the right-wing newspaper Le Figaro that the proposals mark a “breach in civilisation”.

Gay-rights group SOS-Homophobie on Wednesday claimed that the prayer provided a “breeding ground for discrimination and homophobia”, while the Left Radical Party, which supports the government, asserted that the church has “no democratic legitimacy to become involved in the political debate in France”.

While the left is united in backing the reform, the French right is divided.

Christian Jacob, who chairs the parliamentary group of the mainstream right-wing UMP, says that a large majority of the party’s MPs are opposed to it because of the legal link between marriage and parenthood.

But a number of leading UMPers, including former education minister Luc Chatel and former sport minister Chantal Jouanno, support the change.

The question even divides families. When Patrick Balkany, who represents a constituency near Paris, told Le Monde newspaper that he was “really hostile to adoption by homosexuals”, his wife, Isabelle, interrupted the conversation to explain that he was “an old reactionary”.

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