Pope suggests French lawmakers ‘repeal’ gay marriage law

16 Jun

imageProvoking a nation already torn over gay marriage, the head of the Roman Catholic Church urges French politicians not to follow ‘fashions of the moment’

16 JUNE 2013 | BY JEAN PAUL ZAPATA

Pope Francis encouraged French politicians to take matters into their own hands in a speech apprently directed at gay marriage.

Speaking to a delegation of French politicians and representatives at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis called France a ‘nation to which the eyes of the world often turn,’ pointing to the controversial Marriage for All Bill that split the country into in an unprecedented show of public discord between gay marriage opponents and supporters.

Following a series of protests, arrests, attacks and even deaths related to the gay marriage debate, President Francois Hollande signed the bill into law on 28 May.

According to a Vatican statement, the Pope said to the delegation, whose arrival coincided with Rome’s annual gay pride parade: ‘Your task, technically and legally, is certainly to propose, amend or even repeal legislation.’

The pontiff also said it was ‘necessary’ for the parliamentarians to ‘inject their spirit, a soul that doesn’t reflect the fashions and ideas of the moment, but gives them the essential quality that elevates and ennobles the human person.’

The Church ‘wishes to make its specific contribution on deep issues… not only anthropological or societal issues, but also in political, economic and cultural areas,’ he added.

The Pope’s nuanced comments come at a time when French leaders are choosing how, and if, to abide by the new law in the face of their personal beliefs and divided public opinion.

Hélène Mandroux, the mayor of Montpellier, has received threats from anti-equal marriage campaigners, including a package filled with feces, after she married two same-sex couples.

Other politicians, like Jean-Michel Colo, the mayor of Basque region Arcangues, are denouncing the ‘crazy’ law by refusing to officiate same-sex marriages. Colo, who publicly announced his refusal to marry Guy Martineau-Espel and Jean-Michel Martin earlier this week, risks five years of imprisonment and a fine of €75,000 ($100,000).

The mayor of a town with a population of 3000, called the law ‘illegitimate’.

‘I don’t give lessons, I’m not inciting other mayors to follow my example, but I won’t enforce an illegitimate law,’ said Colo to local news.

‘My seven councilmen and I are completely in agreement in saying that we will not participate in this charade.’

He added: ‘When people close the door at home, they do what they want. For me, marriage is for a woman and man to have children. I am not discriminating, because a same-sex couple is sterile. It’s a parody of equality, it’s a big lie.’

The couple, Espel and Martin, tried to negotiate with the mayor, suggesting the conduct the ceremony somewhere else than the traditional marriage hall.

Colo said ‘I will go to the gallows’ before he officiates a same-sex marriage.

The couple will instead be married in the municipality where one of their parents resides.

Bernard Gachen, chairman of gay and lesbian group Basque Bascos, said the mayor’s actions were unacceptable. ‘This is not a mayor who decides the legitimacy of law. We are not in a separate Republic.’

National Secretary of Social Issue of the Socialist Party Marc Coatanéa said: ‘This is unacceptable. The republic does not allow exceptions to the application of a law that was passed democratically.

‘I remind mayors that their function requires them to enforce or apply the same laws.’

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