French cardinal warns gay marriage law risks violence

Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:14am EDT
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - France's top Catholic bishop warned the government on Tuesday that legalization of same-sex marriage risked inciting violence at a time the country had more pressing economic and social problems to tackle.

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.

Protests against the law, led by lay groups mostly backed by the Catholic Church, have become more agitated in recent days as noisy opponents rally outside the Senate and National Assembly and harass politicians supporting the reform.

Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris, said the difference between the sexes was a basic human trait and denying it by legalizing marriage and adoption for homosexuals would weaken society's ability to manage its differences peacefully.

"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."

The Socialist-led government, whose popularity has plummeted amid economic woes and a tax fraud scandal, is expected to pass the law next week to make France the 13th country to allow gays to tie the knot. Uruguay legalized gay marriage last week.


The government decided on Monday that the law, one of the most important social reforms since France ended the death penalty in 1981, would be passed weeks earlier than planned and with a limited debate in its second reading.   Continued...

French Archbishop of Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-trois carries a cross in the gardens of the Montmartre's Sacre Coeur Basilica during the annual Good Friday "Stations of the Cross" procession in Paris March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau