There is an excellent blogpost on the new Catholic Voices media blog, which states we have much to learn from the example of the French in our defence of marriage. The French bishops have successfully managed to keep the frame away from homosexuality (how many people realise that the Church favours the decriminalisation of homosexual acts) and have instead kept the focus upon the conjugal meaning of marriage and the welfare of children.
The French Church has managed to build a broad civil alliance against same-sex marriage, including various gay and atheist activists. The movement is called Manif pour Tous, which according to Le Figaro, includes “La Socialo, La Catho et l’homo.”
There is a rally taking place in Paris on Sunday, which has a predicted turn-out of at least half a million people – a rally ‘for marriage’ and ‘against homophobia’.
Against this backdrop, in a decision which could have implications for religious freedom across Europe, France’s education minister, Vincent Peillon, has written a controversial letter warning Catholic schools not to engage in any discussion about this issue with their students, after Eric de Labarre, secretary general of France’s Catholic schools had sent a letter to France’s 8,300 schools, urging just the opposite! The socialist President, Francois Hollande has weighed in on the side of his education minister and thus French Catholic schools (which are private) are barred from discussing the issue at all, unlike state institutions.
In the meantime, rumour has it that the ‘Equal Marriage’ Bill is coming before Parliament for its first vote (second reading) on 28 January.
La Manif pour Tous, has invited supporters of traditional marriage to join with them in solidarity and make their feelings known in London, this Sunday at the same time as the Paris rally. Meet in front of the French embassy, 58 Knightsbridge, from midday.
Catholics could make a day of it and go on from there to Southwark Cathedral where the relics of St Don Bosco can be venerated between 3.30pm and 5.30pm with the Mass at 6pm.
Put on your dancing shoes…
2 thoughts on “Alliance Francaise”
Yes, my son (who is after all half French and currently lives very near by) will be there on Sunday.
We were very impressed by the response of the Catholic church in France when we were over there at Christmas: after each Mass they reminded us of the Paris demo.
Hollande is probably the most anti-Catholic French President they’ve had since… well, WW2.
Although it’s hard not to be impressed by the public demonstrations in France, I think we need not be careful not to read too much into this. At the most basic level, it looks at the moment as though both the UK and France will have the measure forced through regardless.
The Catholic Voices blog is right insofar as it is arguing that opposition should be based on SSM being an undermining of marriage as a union oriented towards the procreation and education of children: that’s not a ‘frame’, that’s what marriage really is. And that’s what, essentially, Catholic Bishops in both England and Wales and Scotland have already been arguing. The only question then is whether that central truth could have been presented in a way so that the media took it on board rather than reducing it to homophobia. I’d make two brief points here: a) I’m not convinced that however that truth is presented, it will be accepted as non-homophobic: there’s too much baggage in the way of it being heard that way, however carefully we can imagine it being worded; b) in presenting the truth about marriage, we need to be careful not to undermine other truths. The Church is opposed to homosexual activity. That is not the central issue in the case of SSM, but we can’t allow anything we say in opposition to SSM to obscure that truth as well. (So we can’t simply say: ‘We’ve absolutely nothing against homosexual activity, but we’re against SSM.’ We can say: ‘Homosexuality is not the issue here.’ But do you really think that the pro-SSM side would leave it (or indeed have left it) at that?)
In essence, I think the Catholic Voices blog is being too optimistic about the power of opposition to SSM to reframe the debate in the UK simply by a better choice of words. Public opinion in France is apparently 58% in favour of SSM. http://fr.news.yahoo.com/sondage-mariage-homosexuel-58-fran%C3%A7ais-142857866.html which is not dissimilar to UK figures http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_Kingdom#Public_opinion . This suggests to me that even if French opposition to SSM has been better presented, that better presentation has had little effect.
If I had to put my finger on the key difference between the French debate and the UK ones (and there are several), it would be the lack of opposition to SSM on the part of the leadership of any major UK party. And that’s simply about the exercise of political power, and nothing to do with the quality or perception of the arguments.