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In his most recent column for The Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), Cardinal George Pell reflects on the recent fight over marriage in France:
For about a decade the French Catholic Church has not raised its voice much in public life. But that changed in August.

On the feast of the Assumption the present Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Vingt-Trois sparked a controversy, when he prayed: "May children and young people cease being simply the object of the desires and conflicts of adults, so they can enjoy fully the love of a father and mother."

The fact that homosexual marriage was on the political agenda caused the reaction.

Surprisingly France's most famous newspaper, Le Monde, published an article by a leading public intellectual and Catholic convert backing the cardinal.

Public opinion did not expect much other support for the archbishop, but this came from unexpected sources when, on November 7, the Council of Ministers approved homosexual marriage.

The Minister for Justice let the cat out of the bag when she told the cardinal that "what is at stake is a reform of civilisation". He agreed, saying the change would redefine humanity, the roles of men and women and procreation.

He made no appeal to Bible teaching, saying the issue touched the nature of human life. Unlike us, who concentrate on the small number of couples who would enter homosexual marriages, or the short-term practical consequences, many of the French from both sides of the fence realise basic issues are at stake. They know ideas are powerful and will be taught in schools to the next generation. 

Read the entire column. The Cardinal's essay reiterates some of the information found in a December 7, 2012, column by Italian journalist Sandro Magister:

But in the fall, everything changed. On November 7, gay marriage obtained the approval of the council of ministers. Cardinal Vingt-Trois protested to President François Hollande, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, and made public what he had objected to them in private.

The archbishop responded to what the minister had told him, namely that "what is at stake is a reform of civilization," and said that he too thinks this way, that the issue is precisely this, of a radical change of the nature of man, of the sexes, of procreation. And therefore one cannot get carried away with an act of tyranny of such impact, deciding everything by a majority with a margin of 1 or 2 percent.

To Minister Taubira, who told him: "We are not touching the Bible," the cardinal rebutted that not even he was bringing this into discussion: "It is a question that concerns man, and this is enough."

And this is precisely what is new. Against the law on gay marriage a resistance is mobilizing that is not confessional, but humanistic, of men and women with the most varied visions of the world.  

Read that entire piece on the Chiesa website.

Cardinal Pell's column opens by stating, "The French think differently. They love ideas." Perhaps that was meant as a compliment, but my impression is that some of the French, especially many of its intellectual and political elites, are infatuated with the wrong ideas. Besides, the love of ideas is hardly unique to the French; the essential question is, "Are the ideas good? Are they humane?" The twentieth century was dominated—and brutally bloodied—by a popular idea called "communism" (or "socialism", as Naziism was also a form of socialism). The West, since the 1960s, has been in love with a combination of ideas—or impulses, really—that flow from the notion that man is a materialistic animal whose main drive is the fulfillment of passions, feelings, and physical desires. Frankly, I don't see the French thinking "differently" at all; they are merely pursuing the same politically-correct, anti-human ideologies that are also the rage in other (mostly western) European countries, as well as in North America. That said, it is heartening to see signs of Church leaders in France waking up to the seriousness of the dangers and threats. North American bishops would do well to pay close attention. 

 
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Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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