Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 04:10:26 AM EST
I read an article in Le Monde this morning which rather irritated me. His Eminence Twenty-Three (yes, that's his name), cardinal-archbishop of Paris, indignantly opposes the Government's proposal to extend the possibility of civil marriage to same-sex couples :
|« Mariage pour tous »: à Lourdes, Mgr Vingt-Trois dénonce « une supercherie » et les « lobbies » | Digne de foi||" Marriage for all" : in Lourdes, Mgr Vingt-Trois warns of a "hoax" and "lobbies" |
|Ce projet n'est pas seulement une ouverture généreuse du mariage à de nouvelles catégories de concitoyens, c'est une transformation du mariage. Ce serait le mariage de quelques uns imposé à tous ». Pour l'Eglise, « la question fondamentale est celle du respect de la réalité sexuée de l'existence humaine. Imposer dans le mariage et la famille une vision de l'être humain sans reconnaitre la différence sexuelle serait une supercherie qui ébranlerait un des fondements de notre société et instaurerait une discrimination entre les enfants». Il a une nouvelle fois regretté l'absence de débat national, qui aurait permis d'aller au-delà « de sondages aléatoires ou de la pression ostentatoire de quelques lobbies ».|| "This project is not merely a generous opening up of marriage to new categories of citizens, it is a transformation of marriage. This would be the wedding of a few, imposed on all". For the Church the fundamental question is that of respect for the sexual reality of human existence. To impose in marriage and on the family a vision of the human being without recognizing the sexual difference is a deception that would shake a cornerstone of our society and introduce discrimination between children" . He again regretted the absence of a national debate, which would have enabled us to go beyond "random opinion polls or the heavy-handed pressure of a few lobbies". |
My impression is that his eminence is mistaken, or is trying to mislead us, as to the nature of marriage.
front-paged by afew
In thinking about what marriage is, and what the French think about it, I thought it would be useful to examine how they make use of the various forms at their disposal, including the PACS (civil solidarity pact, instituted in 1999).
We can note that the creation of the PACS was, among other things, a means of sidestepping religious opposition to gay marriage; but was nevertheless denounced as the EOTWAWKI by the right.
So I looked up some numbers, and compiled this graph :
Sources : INSEE, Catholic Church
It's an interesting graph. Here are some of the things that strike me about it :
- The Catholic Church's definition of marriage is no longer accepted by the majority of couples who marry. The last time that a majority of civil marriages were also celebrated in a Catholic church was 1993 (50.3%); the decline is rapid (30.9% in 2010).
- The institution of the PACS has probably caused a modest decrease in the number of marriages; but has caused a large increase in the number of officialy-sanctioned relationships.
- The number of same-sex PACS per year is slowly increasing, but still fairly small (9143 in 2010), and is a decreasing proportion of total PACS(4.5% in 2010).
- The "demand" for same-sex marriage might be inferred from the "stock" of current same-sex PACS : about 60 000 in 2010, this might attain 80 000 at end 2012. If same-sex marriage is enacted in 2013, and, for example, half get married that year, that would make a bit of a bump in the marriage statistics. What would be the ongoing rate of same-sex marriage? If it were more than 5000 a year, it might be enough to arrest the decline in the marriage rate.
All this gives some perspective to the Church's rearguard action. There are a number of important differences between the Church's definition of marriage and the common understanding of it in French society. This starts with the question of divorce : one might presume that most people marry with the intention
, but not necessarily the expectation
of staying together until death.
So, the attempt to claim ownership of marriage falls pretty flat. It follows that the Church's attempt to mobilise civil society to lobby their MP and to demonstrate in the streets will be of limited effect.
The Church is in a quandary, because insofar as they have attempted to identify civil marriage with Church marriage, they will be stuck with a new definition that they don't want to live with.
I suggest they recognise the divorce between the two definitions : they could proclaim a "marriage strike", and recommend to those who marry in the Church that they should not register their union as a civil marriage; thus avoiding pollution by homosexuality. It would be interesting to see the statistical result of that.