French Catholic Church to pray away the gay on August 15
France’s Catholic Church is so eager to prevent the upcoming legalization of gay marriage that it is actually enlisting a dead king in its campaign. This August 15, the day on which the Virgin Mary physically ascended into heaven, French churches will once more read a prayer dating to the reign of King Louis XIII, who initiated it in 1638. André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris and head of the French Council of Bishops, recently issued a corresponding order to his bishops and priests.
The revived prayer seems like an odd way to snipe at gay marriage and adoption. In 1637, desperate to have a son after twenty-three years of marriage to Anne of Austria, Louis had promised to dedicate his kingdom to the Virgin Mary and order annual prayers to be spoken in her name if she would only give him a male heir. The next year, Louis XIV - the famous Sun King - was born, and the rest is history.
The Assumption Day prayer, once an annual event, faded away after World War II, so it has needed a little touching-up. You see, the trouble with old King Louis is that while he knew a lot about the power of prayer, he didn't seem to worry much about gay marriage - or gay anything, for that matter. So today, in 2012, the updated prayer will not only ask God to protect the French state and bless its servants, but will contain a new twist that has been added for the occasion: The faithful are asked to pray that children will “cease to be objects of the desires and conflicts of adults and fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother.” A nice enough sentiment in itself, but you can see what they’re driving at.
The new version also asks that public officials may be given Divine guidance “so that their sense of the common good will overcome special demands.” Yes, you’ve guessed which special demands they’re referring to. A spokesman for the French Church, Monsignor Bernard Podvin, explained that the new-old prayer is intended to “raise the consciousness of public opinion about grave social choices.” And what issue could ever be graver than gay marriage?
The prayer also takes aim at physician-assisted suicide, which is also a hot-button issue in France.
God was not available for comment today. But Church interference won’t be welcome in this largely secular country with its strict separation of Church and State. Archbishop Vingt-Trois is undoubtedly aware of this, so the best explanation for his decision is that he wishes to outmaneuvre more reactionary elements within the Church by going after gay marriage on his own, fairly cautious terms. But in doing so, he risks alienating many loyal Church members.
Nadine Morano, a Catholic and pro-gay marriage politician and former family minister for the conservative UMP party, told journalists this morning that "the Church is acting within its role when it defends values, particularly those of marriage... But the Virgin Mary, to whom I am very much attached, does not reject any of her children." Morano pointed out that blindly praising the two-parent model "simply means ignoring the fact that 85% of violence done to children occurs within traditional families." She will be boycotting the event.
As far as anyone in France knows, the decision to legalize gay marriage will be made by the French National Assembly and will not be induced through immaculate conception.