French minister

France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira Photo: Telegraph/Reuters

Mothers and fathers would officially cease to exist in France if draft gay marriage legislation promoted by the new socialist government goes ahead. Instead, all references to “mothers and fathers” in the nation’s civil code will be swapped for the non-gender-specific “parents”. This would apply equally to heterosexual and homosexual couples in civil marriage ceremonies.

The draft law, due to go before President Francois Hollande’s cabinet for approval on October 31, states that “marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender”. It would also give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples.

But the Catholic Church is fighting back — with prayer. Reviving a custom that dates back to 1638 the bishops authorised a “prayer for France” to be read in all churches on August 15. It includes petitions for the welfare of people affected by the economic crisis and alludes to euthanasia — which Hollande also supports. Here is the text:

Brothers and sisters, on this day when we celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, under whose patronage France has been placed, we present to God, through the intercession of Our Lady, our trusting prayers for our country.

1. In these times of economic crisis, many of our fellow citizens are victims of various restrictions and view the future with concern; let us pray for those who have decision-making powers in this area and ask God to make us even more generous in solidarity with our fellow men.

2. For those who were recently elected to legislate and govern; that their sense of the common good of society will overcome special demands and that they have the strength to follow the directions of their conscience.

3. For families; that their legitimate expectation of support from society is not disappointed; that their members support one another with fidelity and tenderness throughout their lives, especially in painful times; that the commitment of spouses to each other and to their children may be a sign of the fidelity of love.

4. For children and young people; that we will all help each one to discover their own path for progress towards happiness; that they cease to be the objects of the desires and conflicts of adults in order to fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother.

Lord our God, we entrust to you the future of our country. Through the intercession of Our Lady, grant us the courage to make the choices necessary for a better quality of life for all, and for the development of our youth, the grace of strong and faithful families. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And not only prayer. The Telegraph reported last month:

The head of the French Catholic Church Cardinal Philippe Barbarin warned followers last week that gay marriage could lead to legalised incest and polygamy in society. He told the Christian’s RFC radio station: “Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society. “This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall.”

And Pope Benedict XVI invited 30 French bishops to Italy to urge them to fight against the new law. He told them: “We have there a true challenge to take on. “The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective.”

The government claims it has the best interests of children at heart:

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told France’s Catholic newspaper La Croix: “Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child’s development? What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government.”

This is the kind of sentimental rhetoric we are hearing from politicians everywhere. The burden of proof that children’s interests will be protected falls on those who want change, not on those who support the status quo.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet