Pope Francis on Saturday appeared to
call on French lawmakers to repeal the country's nascent gay marriage
After a raucous debate which included
massive demonstrations and an increase in homophobic attacks, France
last month became the 14th nation to legalize marriage for
gay and lesbian couples. The Roman Catholic Church in France
strongly opposed passage of the law.
Speaking to members of the French
Senate and Assembly at the Vatican, Francis told lawmakers that their
“duty … involves proposing, amending and abolishing legislation.”
“However, it is also necessary to
instil something extra in them, I would say a spirit, a soul, that
does not limit itself to reflecting the modalities and ideas of the
moment, but which also confers upon them the indispensable quality
that elevates and dignifies the human person,” Francis said,
according to a transcript provided by Vatican Radio.
Francis defended the church's role in
influencing public policy.
“The principles of secularism which
governs the relations between the French state and the various
religious denominations should not imply that there is a hostility
towards the religious reality, or an exclusion of religions from the
social sphere and the debates which enliven them. One can rejoice in
the fact that French society is rediscovering proposals made by the
Church, which, among other things, offer a certain vision of the
person and his or her dignity in light of the common good.”
The pope also danced around the issue
of marriage equality on Friday, when he received Archbishop Justin
Welby, the head of the Church of England.
Francis urged Welby to continue
affirming “the importance of the institution of the family built on
marriage, a value that you yourself have had occasion to recall
Welby had in fact condemned a proposed
marriage bill being debated in England.
“The concept of marriage as a
normative place for procreation is lost. The idea [of] marriage as
covenant is diminished. The family in its normal sense, predating
the state, and as our base community of society, as we have already
heard, is weakened,” Welby told colleagues on the floor of the
House of Lords.