This week French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to the Conference of Bishops of France at the Collège des Bernardins, a former Cistercian college at the University of Paris. (You can read the full speech here.) And while he made several eyebrow-raising comments during the rather long speech, one stands out: Macron said he’s working to “repair” the links between Church and State. Since the two have been officially separated since 1905, these Macron Catholic Church comments have received wide criticism in mainstream and social media.
Though French President Macron remains steadfast in recognizing the Church as occasionally out of step with modern-day society, his speech included this mind-boggling sentence, which he later took to Twitter to simplify (translated from French):
Every day the Catholic Church and its priests support single-parent families, divorced families, homosexual families, families resorting to abortion, in vitro fertilization, medically assisted procreation, families confronted with the vegetative state of one of their own, families where one ‘believes’ and the other doesn’t, bringing in the family torn by spiritual and moral choices.
The excerpt immediately aroused anger among many activists.
Depuis quand l’Eglise accompagne les familles #homoparentales alors qu’elle s’oppose à leur reconnaissance et à leur protection? On croit rêver ce discours est complètement irréel…#LGBT pic.twitter.com/xqSELo2dhK
— Joël Deumier (@joeldeumier) April 9, 2018
Macron’s follow-up tweet above reads, “Every day the Church accompanies lone-parent, homosexual or abortion-seeking families by trying to reconcile its principles and reality.”
The response from Joël Deumier above reads, “Since when has the Church accompanied homosexual families when it opposes their recognition and protection? We think this dreamland speech is completely unreal … #LGBT”
— GAYLIB (@GayLib) April 10, 2018
The above tweet, another response, reads, “Shocking, hurtful, inappropriate,” accompanied by a hashtag that translates to “ignorance.”
These Macron Catholic Church comments are an affront to LGBT people
Five years after France’s historic vote granting marriage for all, and in the midst of the ongoing French debate on medically assisted procreation, affirming that the Church “accompanies homosexual families” is at the same time totally ignorant and an affront to all LGBT people in France.
The Church is doing anything but “accompanying” gays and lesbians, something seen recently in the French cities of Pau and Bayonne, where a bishop wanted to organize a conference alongside groups promoting chastity and ex-gay conversion therapy. That conference was canceled thanks to the mobilization of local groups, but the bishop in question — a fierce opponent of LGBTQ people — swore it would happen eventually.
Emmanuel Macron clearly doesn’t understand the nuance. The Church is making no attempt to “accompany” LGBTQ people but rather convert them.
The Catholic Church in France actually fights against equal rights
Let us also remember that every step towards greater LGBTQ visibility and rights in France — indeed, in every country where the Catholic Church is present — is met with fierce resistance from the clergy and religious networks.
Catholic networks financed the country’s homophobic, anti-equality group Manif Pour Tous and constituted the bulk of its ranks. And these same religious networks make specious arguments against medically assisted procreation in an effort to make them unavailable to lesbian couples.
Furthermore, Emmanuel Macron’s sunny vision of France has witnessed months upon months of homophobic violence against gays and lesbians. (In its annual report, the organization SOS Homophobia noted an increase in homophobic violence.)
One could also bring up the innumerable cases of pedophilia affecting the Church, including among those highest in the French Catholic hierarchy — Cardinal Barbarin himself is often blasted for not having denounced the actions of a pedophile priest — which makes its moral authority all the more dubious.
These Macron Catholic Church comments have made only a certain class of people happy: those who consider homosexuality an “abomination.”