(Basilica of Sacre Coeur on Montmartre hill above Paris July 12, 2009. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

The French Catholic Church will revive a centuries-old custom next week with an updated national “prayer for France” opposing the same-sex marriage and euthanasia reforms planned by the new Socialist government.

The prayer, to be read in all churches on Aug 15, echoes the defense of traditional marriage by Pope Benedict and Catholic leaders around the world as gay nuptials gain acceptance, especially in Europe and North America.

King Louis XIII decreed in 1638 that all churches would pray on Aug 15, the day Catholics believe the Virgin Mary was assumed bodily into Heaven, for the good of the country. The annual practice fell into disuse after World War Two.

In the text, Catholics will pray for newly elected officials “so that their sense of the common good will overcome special demands.” This would include support for traditional families “throughout their lives, especially in painful moments.”