April 01, 2013

The defense of marriage in France

By Aymeric Pourbaix

Editor's note: In comments originally made to Christian Family, France and provided to CNA, Bishop Jean Laffitte of the Pontifical Council for Marriage and Family praised work of French citizens in opposing the proposed "marriage for all" legislation. In January, some 1.3 million people turned out in Paris to defend traditional marriage and oppose President Francois Hollande's initiative to redefine marriage and allow adoption by same-sex couples. The draft law was approved in the National Assembly in January and is now being debated in the French Senate. On March 24, over 1 million French citizens turned out in Paris again to show their disapproval of the measure.

1. Is the movement born in France on 13 January being observed attentively in Rome?

Not only was what took place on January 13 given the greatest attention in Rome, but the movement that was set in motion stirred up admiration and hope. Mobilization against so-called “marriage for all” has demonstrated that no amount of dissuasive power can prevent a person from acting according to his conscience or from refusing to act against it. For people collectively to mobilize themselves, in a peaceful manner, is an eminent service to the common good of society. This contributes to safeguarding a genuine culture of love and life. It is the honor of citizens to want to defend the common good, and it is the honor of Christians to desire to participate in its defense. For this reason, I can only encourage all those who are able to be present on March 24 to demonstrate in the same spirit as on January 13. I would like to add that every Christian is a full-fledged citizen, and the memory of his baptism can only urge him on to be exemplary as well in the building of a just society.

2. How is it possible politically in France to resist the ideology of gender, which calls for and obtains “rights” from London to Buenos Aires?

The issue concerns demonstrating the fallacious character of juridical arguments that claim to be the basis of alleged “rights”. Invoking the principal of equality is in this sense a real juridical imposition, because equality between two persons can only refer to their personal dignity and not to relative rights. To get married is a right, certainly, but it is a public process subject to conditions, the first being that of uniting oneself in a community of life and love with another person who is sexually different, with an eye towards forming a family. Two persons of the same sex cannot claim to have taken such a step except by changing the meaning and even the nature of the institution of marriage. This is possible only by an act of legislative violence, as may be observed today in the case of France. The first victims are the children, who are deprived arbitrarily of the presence of a father and a mother. Their interests simply are not taken into consideration.

It is appropriate to oppose such violence, which disguises itself as tolerance.  In order to resist such efforts, people should come together in associations, working alongside other groups and being ever vigilant with regard to what is taught to young people and children.  I remember that it was the result of parents who were outraged by what they had discovered in Life and Earth Sciences (SVT) curricula that triggered the debate concerning gender in France.  It is urgent that people read, become informed, and deepen their understanding of themes related to marriage and family. All initiatives pursued in this direction are welcome.  When democratic debate is absent, it is legitimate to express such disagreement publicly.

3. How might the Church unite diverse populations around ethical and anthropological demands? Does freedom of expression seem restricted to you concerning these subjects, by laws such as that against homophobia?

Christians, for their part, must get in the habit of questioning their members of Parliament and senators each time questions being debated contain something important at stake. That applies to the institution of marriage as well as to the defense and protection of human life from conception until natural death, without forgetting all of the questions connected to the end of life. In particular, we must maintain our vigilance about projects involving the legalization of euthanasia. Among all of the questions being debated today, gender takes on particular importance as it touches upon the most fundamental structures of human nature in its alterity and challenges the right of children to be welcomed into a home that is formed by a father and a mother. It is, therefore, necessary to engage in this debate in order to avoid grave discrimination against children. Christians share these imperatives with all people of good will.

Finally, there is an attempt to reduce the freedom of expression of citizens by proclaiming them guilty through moral norms that – because these norms are not defined rigorously on the basis of the natural law – marginalize them arbitrarily. We have heard politicians say that to disagree with “gay marriage” is an expression of homophobia! Such political behavior infringes gravely upon the freedom of citizens.  When the issue of concern touches upon such fundamental questions, it is legitimate and sometimes morally necessary to invoke conscientious objection.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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