Speaking in Rome on December 21, Pope Benedict XVI came out swinging in defense of traditional families. The pontiff said that the very notion of being a human person “is being called into question." In a talk marking the end of the year, the Pope said “The question of the family ... is the question of what it means to be a man, and what it is necessary to do to be true men." He Pope spoke of the "falseness" of gender theories and cited the Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim, who has spoken out against homosexual marriage. "Bernheim has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper," he said.
The Pope mentioned the views of French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir's that women are not born women but becomes so, and that sex is no longer an element of nature but a social role people choose for themselves. "The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious," he said. Defending the traditional definition of marriage is “about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears."
Last month, the Pope urged French bishops to oppose a bill considered by the French Congress approving same-sex marriage. He asked them to defend traditional marriage as the "foundation of social life". Cardinal Archbishop Philippe Barbarin of Lyon sparked outrage in November when he said legalizing same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy and incest.
On December 17, l’Osservatore Vaticano spoke of laws permitting same-sex marriage as an attempt to create a communist "utopia". This came a day after thousands of demonstrators marched in France to express support legalizing both marriages and adoption for same-same couples. France's parliament is to debate the government-backed "marriage for all" bill in the first quarter of 2013. Since the Socialists enjoy a significant majority in the French Congress, and currently hold the chair of prime minister in the person of Francoise Hollande, the same-sex marriage is expected to pass despite opposition from the Catholic Church and other religious groups.
Speaking earlier this week, France's Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim once again expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. He wrote an open letter to the French government and legislators that traditional marriage deserves to be protected as an institution solely between men and women. "The argument that marriage is for all of those in love does not hold -- it is not because people love each other that they systematically have the right to marry," he said in the letter. Furthermore, the rabbi wrote "Marriage is not only a recognition of love. It is the institution that links the joining of a man and woman with the succession of generations."
More than 1,200 mayors or deputy mayors have signed a petition opposing the French government's plans to approve same-sex marriage. Polls suggest that up to two thirds of French voters back same-sex marriage but are split on allowing them to adopt.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.