Gay French activists are furious because Catholic bishops are using a religious holiday to urge politicians to vote against marriage equality today (15 August).
The ‘Prayer for France’, a centuries old tradition, was revived to specifically attack government plans to legalize gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.
A speech was sent to all Catholic churches across the country to mark the feast of the Assumption.
According to France 24, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, the Catholic Archbishop of France, asked churchgoers to pray for ‘newly elected officials’ to put their ‘sense of common good over the pressure to meet special demands.’
For years the European country has prided itself on its separation between church of state, and gay rights groups have slammed the church for interfering with politics.
Nicolas Gougain, from gay rights group Inter-LGBT, said: ‘François Hollande is committed to these reforms and they have been reaffirmed by his government.
‘We can count on getting a majority in parliament and no prayer will be able to block this necessary legislation. Religion has no place in politics.’
Discussing adoption by same-sex couples, the cardinal invited congregations to pray ‘children cease to be objects of the desires and conflicts of adults and fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother.’
Gougain blasted the comment, saying the cardinal’s remark implied it is dangerous for a child to be brought up by same-sex parents.
He said: ‘The text of the prayer is homophobic. The church’s definition of family is far from the reality of the diverse families we see today – same-sex, mixed or single parents.
‘We are asking that all different types of families are recognized in the interests of both child and parent.’
Catholic Church spokesperson Monsignor Bernard Podvin said the prayer, which has not been used since World War 2, was intended to ‘raise the consciousness of public opinion about grave social choices.’
The Catholic Church’s prayer comes after it was revealed 65% of French people back gay marriage, and 53% agree with same-sex adoption, according to a poll released yesterday (14 August).