.- Leaders of the Catholic Church in France have asked all Catholic dioceses to unite in prayer for the country's future and common good on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Monsignor Bernard Podvin, the French Catholic bishops’ conference spokesman, said in a July 30 announcement that social and economic crises made it “essential to raise awareness” and ask for guidance regarding “our personal and collective decisions.”
Intended to be offered in all French churches on Aug. 15, the prayers seek wisdom for legislators and governing authorities, relief from effects of the European economic crisis, and the strengthening of marriage and family life.
The national prayer is in keeping with a French Catholic tradition dating back to the 17th century, to pray specifically for the nation on the solemnity of the Assumption.
Entrusting the country's future to God “through the intercession of Our Lady,” French Catholics will ask God for “the courage to make the necessary choices,” seeking “a better quality of life for all” as well as “the development of our youth through strong and faithful families.”
The prayer written by the French bishops also mentions “those who have been elected recently to legislate and govern.” The Socialist politician Francois Hollande was elected president of France this past May, while in mid-June the Socialist National Party gained a majority in the country’s parliament for the first time in a decade.
French Catholics are being asked by the bishops to pray that politicians’ “sense of society's common good” would outweigh other concerns, and that they would “have the strength of follow the directions of their conscience.”
Parishes are also being requested to pray for families, that they would receive society's support and that “the commitment of spouses to each other and their children” would be “a sign of faithfulness to love.”
The prayer’s final intention is focused on children and youth, that they would “cease to be objects of the desire and conflict of adults” and instead “fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother.”
The move follows Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's June 2012 announcement that the country's Socialist government would institute "homosexual marriage” and allow same-sex couples to adopt children, fulfilling a campaign promise by President Hollande.