Catholic Leaders Should Oppose Violence, not Marriage Equality, in France

Though debates about marriage equality here in the United States can become quite heated at times, in France the discussion of this topic has inspired warnings about violence, threats of violence, and violence itself.

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois

The latest episode in this regard has been the Archbishop Of Paris’ warning that if marriage equality becomes law,  society may erupt with violent protests.  According to a Reuters news report:

“Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois told a meeting of French bishops the planned marriage reform, which the government has speeded up amid mounting pressure from opponents, was a sign that society had lost its capacity to integrate different views. . . .

” ‘This is the way a violent society develops,’ he told the spring meeting of the French bishops’ conference. ‘Society has lost its capacity of integration and especially its ability to blend differences in a common project.’ “

Unfortunately, the cardinal’s argument contains something of a paradox.  While he complains about marriage equality causing a loss of integration and the blending of differences, he fails to realize that by not providing marriage for gay and lesbian couples, the nation already severely hampers integration and blending of differences.

On the secular side, a leader of the anti-marriage equality movement also warned of violence this week.  LGBTQNation reports that Frigide Barjot, a French comic who is a leader in the movement against marriage equality commented on the French Senate’s passage of the bill and the decision to now move the debate to the National Assembly:

“This is a disgrace. The French people don’t want this law, and what do they do? They speed up its passage. (French President Francois) Hollande wants blood, and he will get it. We live in a dictatorship. The President of the Republic has guillotined us.”

Such rhetoric only incites the already violent motivations of some protesters. reports:

“On Wednesday thousands of protesters swarmed in Paris to voice their opposition to the bill, with some attacking cars and public property, and lashing out at police and journalists, reports France24.

“11 people from the protest were detained for questioning, while 24 pro-equal marriage counter-protesters were arrested, according to police.

During the night four men were detained after they attacked a gay bar in Lille, injuring the manager and causing property damage.

Similarly, reports:

“Earlier in the week, gay rights activists pointed to last weekend’s attack on a gay couple in Paris as evidence of their claim that homophobic acts have tripled nationwide over opposition to the marriage equality law.

“Wilfred De Bruijn was beaten unconscious near his home early Sunday in central Paris, sustaining five fractures in his head and face, abrasions and a lost tooth.”

Catholic leaders in France would do better to forthrightly condemn such acts of violence, instead of simply warning that violence may be an outcome.  Warning about violence seems designed to inspire fear about the marriage equality bill, which the French bishops oppose.  But warning about possible future violence is a weak response if there is no condemnation of the violence which is already occurring during this debate.  Catholic leaders should be peacemakers, not fear-mongers.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

4 replies
  1. pjnugent
    pjnugent says:

    “Unfortunately, the cardinal’s argument contains something of a paradox. While he complains about marriage equality causing a loss of integration and the blending of differences, he fails to realize that by not providing marriage for gay and lesbian couples, the nation already severely hampers integration and blending of differences.”
    I’m reminded that the US bishops did the same thing in their battle against same-gender marriage. They complained that enacting marriage equaliity statutes would impair their religious freedom, while their position would deny other religious commiunities the ability to perform those marriages in their religious ceremonies.

  2. tomfluce
    tomfluce says:

    Good for you Frank. Remember how we first gave the French brothers a thumbs up for their seeming openness to dialog and democratic give and take? Well, whether that statement of theirs was genuine or not, we have to take this action for its word too, far, far short of what Jesus would do. I don’t just want to second the motion or say “amen”. I want to keep challenging New Ways to think about the alternative to pushing on the tolerance/civil rights buttons of RC church devotees. Start pushing for all LGBT folks and their allies–all round the church (notice I avoid up and down and the “hierarchy” demon approach) to come out and take a stand for the Galileo Reconciliation Commission which promises to give serious believers equal chance at changing doctrine. See my blog “the least harm”. Yes, it will eventually happen that there will be none of us left, or, hard to believe, those who believe in our intrinsic inclination to debauchery–the Bible says so–will change their minds. “Sensus fidelium” is not Catholic democracy, but it is driven by Jesus mandated love for one another and respect rather than excommunication/firings to further doctrinal correctness. Thanks for your continued watchdogging.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] in October, and at least one, Cardinal Vingt-Trois, has a murky record on marriage equality after warning of the violence which might erupt if France passed equal marriage rights in […]

  2. […] confused, as an earlier document affirmed same-gender relationships while recent comments seem to warn about violence that will erupt if LGBT rights progress.  Think Progress reports that, even amid the wonderful news that France […]

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