France’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric has been accused of “flipping his lid” after the Cardinal warned that plans to legalise same-sex marriage would open the door to polygamy and incest.
Bertrand Delanoe, the Socialist mayor of Paris and one of France’s few openly gay politicians, expressed his shock at the comments, made at the weekend, by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon and Primate of the Gauls.
“It is very shocking and even surprising coming from him, because he is someone I consider a wise man,” he said. “I don’t know what came over him, he flipped his lid a little bit and what he said was downright ugly.”
The row has erupted as Francois Hollande’s Socialist government draws up a bill legalising same-sex marriages and adoptions by homosexual couples, to be tabled on October 24.
Speaking to RCF Christian radio at the weekend, following talks on the legislation with Manuel Valls, the French interior minister, Cardinal Barbarin warned that gay marriage would herald a complete “breakdown in society”.
“This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall,” he said.
“The first page of the bible, which says that marriage unites a man and a woman, has more force and truth, crossing cultures and centuries, than incidental or transient decisions made by a parliament. This is a choice of the government with which we do not agree.”
As mayor of the capital, Mr Delanoe said he was “obviously” ready to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and had already received several requests to do so.
Bishop Dominique Rey, the Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, has demanded a popular vote on gay marriage as the conflict escalates unto the worst split between church and state for over a decade.
“A referendum must be held to allow a real debate and to make sure the government is not in the grip of the lobbies,” he said. “A majority of the population agrees with the traditional view of marriage.”
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