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Catholics mark festival with anti-gay prayer

French Catholics marked the Assumption holiday on Wednesday with prayers focused on the family and children that were designed to underline the Church's opposition to gay marriage.

Catholics mark festival with anti-gay prayer
Photo: Ted Drake

A prayer read out in churches across France expressed the wish that children "cease to be the objects of the desires and conflicts of adults in

order to fully benefit from the love of a father and mother."

The text was produced by the Bishops of France, who are leading opposition to President Francois Hollande's commitment to legalise gay marriage and make it possible for homosexual couples to adopt children.

Michael Bouvar, one of the leaders of gay rights group SOS Homophobie, attacked the church's move. "The message sent out by the church is a mask for
discrimination and homophobia," he told AFPTV.

The prayer was read first at midnight mass at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, attended by nearly 5,000 worshippers ahead of the traditional
candle-lit Assumption procession on the Seine river.

It was also read out to some 20,000 pilgrims at Lourdes in southwestern France.

Bernard Housset, the Bishop of La Rochelle who presided over the 139th national pilgrimage to Lourdes, told reporters before the mass that the church
would continue its campaign against the proposed legislation.

"You cannot confuse the marriage of a man and a woman with the union of two homosexuals," he said.

Opinion polls suggest the church's stance is out of sync with the views of most French people, two thirds of whom back gay marriage.

A narrower majority (53 percent) is in favour of same-sex couples having the right to adopt, according to a poll published on Wednesday by digital
magazine La Lettre de l'Opinion.

The vast majority of the French are of Catholic heritage although only around five percent of the population attend church regularly.

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POLITICS

French minster orders closure of Cannes mosque over anti-Semitic remarks

France's interior minister said on Wednesday he had ordered the closure of a mosque on the French Riviera because of anti-Semitic remarks made there.

The French riviera town of Cannes
The French riviera town of Cannes. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Gerald Darmanin said the mosque in the seaside city of Cannes was also guilty of supporting CCIF and BarakaCity, two associations that the government dissolved at the end of last year for spreading “Islamist” propaganda.

Darmanin told broadcaster CNews that he had consulted with the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, before shutting down the mosque.

The move comes two weeks after authorities closed a mosque in the north of the country because of what they said was the radical nature of its imam’s preaching.

The mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 100 kilometres north of Paris, was shut for six months because the sermons there incited hatred and violence and “defend jihad”, authorities said.

Last October, a mosque in Allonnes, 200 kilometres west of Paris, was closed also for six months for sermons defending armed jihad and “terrorism”, according to regional authorities.

The French government announced last year that it would step up checks of places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical Islamic propaganda.

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was targeted following an online campaign against him for having shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.

In the interview on Wednesday, the interior minister said that 70 mosques in France were considered to be “radicalised”.

According to the ministry, there are a total of 2,623 mosques and Muslim prayer halls in the country.

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