French politics

Beliefs and convictions

Cardinal Jean Vingt-trois, archbishop of Paris, at the inception of the prayer dedicated to the family values and against the same-sex marriage project in France

On the last Wednesday, the French Catholic Church prayed on the behalf of the traditional values of family, a subtle way to denounce the Jean-Marc Ayrault Government to allow the same-sex marriage in the country.

This initiative, although it was largely put forward and spread, was diversely welcomed by the worshiping shared between the ones backing the Catholic Church’s position and the ones rejecting it, on the behalf of secularism. Thus, Christine Boutin, former minister and PCD President (Parti chrétien démocrate, close to UMP) approved the initiative considering it is normal, even essential the Church takes the issue and gives its point of view, that deny the associations defending secularism and LGBT rights considering a interference in a political debate and an attack to the secularism principle, implemented in France since 1905.

The debate on same-sex marriage and children adoption by homosexuals has caused a stir for a couple of years. More ten years ago, the PACS[1], proposed by promoted by the Lionel Jospin socialist government, was strongly condemned by the Catholic and conservative Right, seeing an attack to the family values and bases. At that time, Christine Boutin already drew attention on herself, showing her opposition to the law which was finally implemented and even backed by some RPR[2] MPs as Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin. And as far as Church is concerned, it also expressed its opposition considering the PACS as a kind of soft marriage.

Knowing the Church’s (and other main monotheist religions) point of view, ten years after, is not surprising, once again insofar as they just reaffirm their precepts which are only a man and a woman can be united and celebrate a marriage. Some people consider the Catholic Church must not intervene in the debate and it is not concerned, because of secularism. In other words, the Church should be silent instead of lobbying to impose its views better. Nonetheless, secularism does not mean absence of expression and the Church does its role only, acting as a moral actor within the society. Face to secular and LGBT activists defending freedom and their convictions, Church draws and defends its arguments from belief and precepts.

It’s hard to say if the French Catholic Church was entitled to spread its universal prayer dedicated to family, during the Assumption Day. As I’ve just written, it was just defended its opinion. What is more, such an initiative should not have a major impact on the political level in the sense the opinion seems largely in favour of the same-sex marriage. Nonetheless, this issue points out the difficulty of the Catholic Church to be enclosed and understand the world in which it is living once again. In spite of all, it is highly probable the Church will be not a brake to the enlargement of marriage for same-sex couples insofar as it is not on its interests.

[1] PACS : Pacte civil et de solidarité (similar to a Civil Union)

[2] RPR : Rassemblement pour la République (the ancestor of the current UMP)