The Catholic bishops of France are reviving a 17th-century custom by asking the faithful to pray for their country on August 15 as a new government plans to legalise same-sex marriage and possibly euthanasia.
The custom began with King Louis XIII, who first ordered a “prayer for France” in all churches on the feast of the Assumption.
The move is unusual for French bishops, who usually keep a low political profile. A spokesman for the bishops, Monsignor Bernard Podvin, said social and economic crises made the prayer for France “essential to raise awareness”.
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”.
They will also pray that politicians’ “sense of society’s common good” would outweigh other concerns, and that they would “have the strength to follow the directions of their conscience”.
The prayer for France on the feast of the Assumption also asks for the strengthening of marriage and family life, and that children would “fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother”.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has announced that the Socialist government will institute “homosexual marriage” and allow same-sex couples to adopt children, fulfilling a campaign promise by President Francois Hollande.
Defending the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyons said marriage was defined in the book of Genesis as created by God to join man and woman.
“Nobody should be surprised that we Catholics think the first page of the Bible is right, even more so than a parliament,” he told Europe 1 radio.
News category: World.