by Robert Morrison
September 28, 2012
Pierre Jovanovic has been a student at L’Institut d’etudes politiques (IEP) de Paris (Sciences Po), one of France’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. He met with FRC’s Senior Vice President Rob Schwarzwalder and Senior Fellows Henry Potrykus, Peter Sprigg, and Bob Morrison last August. Monsieur Jovanovic sent us this column on the great controversy in France. The new Socialist government of President Francois Hollande is determined to overturn marriage in the French parliament. The Catholic Bishops of France have strongly resisted this move. They have been viciously attacked in the left-wing French press. But Evangelical leaders in France have stood firmly with their Catholic brethren. This column was lightly edited by Bob Morrison in an effort to preserve its French flavor. Pierre Jovanovic’s courage reminds us once again of the world-wide solidarity of Christians defending true marriage, the foundation of society.
This Sunday morning at the Evangelical Baptist Church of Rue de Lille, Paris, the minister invited the community to pray for Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon, attacked in the media for comments “with which I totally agree, and that every Christian should support“, he said in his sermon. What is the controversy in which the Cardinal finds himself? Four seconds, no more, no less, from an interview of twenty minutes Friday, September 14th to the TV show “Droit de Citer”. Pressed to answer on gay marriage, the Cardinal asked about the definition of marriage: “It is a word that means a bulwark which allows the weakest in society, that is to say, a woman who gives birth to a child, that establishes all conditions to ensure that this happens the best opportunities. (…) Without the bulwark of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, everything is permitted: you can allow marriage with three people, or incest.”
Horror! Shame! Abjection! Out of context, these words were dropped as fodder for mainstream media and social networks, processed (the Agence France Presse report mentioned the term “polygamy“, which was never employed during the show), amplified and widely criticized. For many, this is another outrage from the “homophobic cardinal“.
At that time, it would be good to restore some truths. Firstly, Cardinal Barbarin reaffirmed Catholic doctrine distinction of persons and acts, valid personal issues to social issues. The heart of the matter, it is the person who can not be reduced only to the “identity” homosexual, which has its place in the Christian community:
“Inside the church, I often say to people who have homosexual desires or tendencies: you have your place, we need you! If it is, you build the Church better than me! This is not a judgment of the people. This is the question of the structure of the depth of family, marriage, society …“.
For Cardinal Barbarin, the main Christian attitude is respect: “Everyone should be respected.” His words were not those of a Salafi imam. The medias can scream homophobia, but if the wolves would really come out of the wood, their calls for vigilance would lose their strength. The content of the reference to “marriage of three” and “incest“, now: what did the Cardinal dare to say? Here again the confusion between homosexuality and pedophilia.
As for marriage of three, nobody asks if this is a pure figment of the imagination! Helas, (Alas!) from a French perspective, there is no need to go back to the 1970s. In those years, we saw the Homosexual Front of Revolutionary Action (FHAR) and Michel Foucault demand the recognition of “peripheral sexualities” and people like Bernard Kouchner (former Foreign Minister under Nicolas Sarkozy) and Jack Lang (former Socialist Culture Minister and still Socialist MP today) sign a petition in 1977 for the release of three men who had sex with children under 15 years old, to notice that a claim about the child sexuality is always present, but unobtrusive. It hides in LGBT intellectual circles of Paris as “we must end with the confusion between pederasty and pedophilia! A boy of 12 is not a child of 8!
Or, in this proposal to enable, through a redefinition of the family, consensual relations between stepparents and children, “when they are old.”
Second, as for marriage of three, his claim is asserted, under the names of “polyamour” or “multiple parenting“. On September 11, during a public debate at the Senate, in Paris, about the bill of Senator Esther Benbassa (Green Party) on marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, academics Daniel Borrillo and Didier Eribon called to change the model family “two parent-child” from top to bottom.”Families with three parents, they already exist! ” they argued. On another note, the claim of a “universal contract“, instead of marriage of two, published in the liberal newspaper Le Monde last May will not have escaped anyone. Cardinal Barbarin never compared homosexuals to polygamous or incestuous relationships. He warned that some wish, consciously or unconsciously, to destroy marriage. They see an opportunity in recognition of same-sex couples. Homosexual persons should know that the internal philosophical logic of gay marriage provides the justification for all claims, which may also be based on “love“, “social recognition” or “reality.” For proof, consider the recent words of Nick Cassavetes, director of the Yellow movie, during Toronto Film Festival: “The whole movie is about judgment and lack of judgment on the fact of what you want. What does it matter that people judge you? (…) Love who you want. This is not what they always say? It’s like gay marriage. (…) If it is between brother and sister, it’s very strange, but if you look closer, no one was injured, except the people who freak out because you’re in love.”
Hence the need for a national debate, as requested by Cardinal Barbarin: “On a subject as deep and touching at this point everyone should really give voice to all citizens.”
In conclusion, I would like to leave a personal testimony. I never forgot that Sunday in January 2009, when a handful of gay protesters had gathered outside the Fourviere Basilica in Lyon to disrupt the Mass. Not listening to some young “cathos” frightened or anxious for battle, Cardinal Barbarin went to meet the demonstrators, who suddenly ceased their din, surprised by his approach.The result was a surprising encounter between the Archdiocese, the Cardinal and LGBT representatives. They departed soothed, and happy to have been listened to.
This act worthy of Christ should be a bright denial of the suspicion of homophobia charged against Cardinal Barbarin. If only journalists really did their job, they would find the same attitude of Pope John Paul II during his visit to the United States in 1979, narrated by Arturo Mari, the photographer of the Pope. “As we entered the Nunciature in Washington, there was a group of homosexuals who were protesting against the Pope. The Holy Father initially did not understand what was happening, and therefore, on entering, he asked me ‘What’s going on?’ ‘A manifestation [demonstration]’ I told him. ‘Who are they?” ‘Gay people, your Holiness.’
‘And how many are they?’ ‘Five hundred.’ ‘And we, how many are we?’ And he began counting, pointing ‘One, two, three, four, five … It’s okay, we can go.’ He pressed the door, approached the protesters, welcomed them and began to speak with some of them. And whistles turned into applause. He was not afraid of anything. He said: ‘Open the doors to Christ’ and he would open himself with his own hands.” As Blessed John Paul II, Cardinal Barbarin is also a clergyman who puts his faith into action.
The whole Catholic Church of France is ready to do the same. Two days ago, the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, head of the Bishops Conference, was invited to RTL, one of the well-known radio networks of France to speak about Gay Marriage. Today, we just received a poll showing 66 % of the French people want a referendum about the issue.
As the revolutionary leader Danton said: “Audacity, more audacity, always audacity, and France is saved!”