In France, a tradition that dates back to 1638 is being revived: a 'Prayer for France.' Rather than praying for peace or justice, though, Catholic leaders are praying for hate -- specifically, that the lives of gays be less equal and less just.
Notre Dame Cathedral
The reason why Catholic leaders in France are in such a tizzy of homophobia is because France's new president, François Hollande, has promised to ensure equal rights for gays when it comes to marriage and adoption. This simply isn't acceptable for those Catholic leaders like Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois.
Whether Catholic opposition will make any difference or not is an open question. Two-thirds of people in France support gay marriage and they probably won't start changing their minds because of this. It's not likely they are ignorant of the fact that the Catholic Church is opposed to equality and equal justice for gays.
In a thinly veiled reference to the proposed gay marriage bill, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois asked churchgoers to pray for "newly elected officials" to put their "sense of common good over the pressure to meet special demands".
These words have angered gay rights groups across France, who have slammed the church for "homophobia" and for interfering in poltics. ...
Church spokesman Monsignor Bernard Podvin said its revival was timed to "raise the consciouness of public opinion about grave social choices". ... The cardinal invites congregations 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". ...
"He is implying that it is dangerous for a child to be brought up by same-sex parents," Gougain 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."
Source: France 24
François Hollande promised during his campaign that he would reform marriage laws, allowing gay couples to both marry and to adopt. The fact that he was elected so handily helps demonstrates that at the very least most people in France aren't troubled by such changes.
It can be difficult, though, to take all of the arguments of the Catholic leaders very seriously...
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon defended the church's positon, saying marriage, defined at the start of the Bible, was created by God to join man and woman.
"Nobody should be surprised if we Catholics think that the first page of the Bible is right, even more so than a parliament," he told Europe1.
It's curious that Cardinal Barbarin would make his argument this way because the Catholic Church doesn't support a literalist interpretation of Genesis. They used to insist that Genesis be taught as history rather than myth, but not anymore.
But if it's not literally true, how can Cardinal Barbarin justify treating it as a literal justification for restricting marriage to just heterosexual couples?
Regardless, as long as Catholic leaders limit themselves to praying against gay marriage, I can accept that. We all know that prayer accomplishes nothing, so if they want to waste their time with prayer, then at least they aren't using that time to cause real harm.