BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – France24 reports that a centuries-old tradition is being revived today, Aug 15, when a so-called Prayer for France will be read out in the country's Catholic churches.
According to the news agency, the prayer's content attacks government plans to legalize same-sex marriage, calling for the protection of the sacrament of marriage from gay couples. But François Hollande's Socialist government has "recently affirmed plans to open up marriage and adoption to gay couples," France24 states. And the minister for families, Dominique Bertinotti, also told French media that a bill legalizing gay marriage will be voted on in parliament in early 2013.
Cardinal André Vingt-Trois appealed to congregations to pray for newly elected officials to put their "sense of common good over the pressure to meet special demands" and to pray that "children cease to be objects of the desires and conflicts of adults and fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother."
The cardinal's words have angered gay rights groups across France. "The church's definition of family is far from the reality of the diverse families we see today — same-sex, mixed or single parents," Nicolas Gougain, of the activist group Inter LGBT, told France24.
He added, "We can count on getting a majority in parliament and no prayer will be able to block this legislation. Religion has no place in politics."
Gay Christian groups have also reacted angrily to the cardinal's prayer, the report says. "Most of our members are really upset by this terrible prayer, which reinforces the fears certain Catholics have towards homosexuals," Elsabeth Saint-Guily, of the gay Christian group David and Jonathan, reportedly told Europe1 radio. "France's bishops, and above them, the Vatican, are using homophobic language."
Meanwhile, Euronews says opinion polls indicate that two-thirds of the French population supports gay marriage.
France24 notes that the Prayer for France, which died out after the Second World War, was first uttered in the 17th century after King Louis XIII
decreed all churches would pray for the good of the country on Aug 15.
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