French economic crisis more urgent than gay marriage, Catholic leader says

November 8, 2012

(French Archbishop of Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)

France’s top Catholic prelate criticized the Socialist government on Thursday for forging ahead with plans to legalize same-sex marriage when the country faced more urgent economic concerns.

Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois spoke as the Church’s main charity agency issued a report showing more and more women in France falling below the poverty line in the past decade and fewer poor people succeeding in rising above it.

Vingt-Trois, a leading critic of the marriage reform, said left-wing attacks on the Church for opposing it showed some supporters did not want a real debate about the fundamental changes he said it would bring about in French society.

“We regret that the government’s choice focuses public attention so much on an issue that’s actually secondary,” Vingt-Trois told the closing session of a conference of French bishops in the southwestern pilgrimage town of Lourdes.

“The priority concerns plaguing our fellow citizens (are) the consequences of the economic and financial crisis – factory closings, rising unemployment, growing insecurity of the poorest families,” he said.

The cardinal also defended his call last week for Catholics to mobilize against the reform, which the National Assembly will begin examining in January and vote on by mid-2013.

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