by Leah Waldron
What are you doing on August 15? If you’re a Catholic living in France, you might be spending the day on your knees, thinking of the Virgin Mary, and praying the gay away.
Let me back up (way, way up).
In 1638, the French monarch King Louis XIII decreed that all churches must recognize August 15 as a day of national prayer. If you’ve never heard of him, the “Louis the Just” was a murderous, mom-exiling, hypochondriac (at battle time) king who was a bit of a dandy.
King Louis XIII was rumored to have slept with his arranged wife only once, and was known to many as quiet, but intensely cruel. After all, he’d been ruling since he was 9 years old and was forcibly married at 14 to a girl he didn’t much care for (on the one night they had sex, this is the child they brought into the world):
Louis picked August 15 for his “pray for the nation!” day because it was the day the Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven, which Catholics believe she did for the good of the nation. So from 1638 until shortly after World War II, French Catholics prayed on August 15 for their nation to prosper (and also maybe for some food, medicine and whatnot. A lot of bad things happened between 1638 and the 20th century). And so it went, until World War II, when the traditional prayer petered out.
Fast forward to 2012, roughly 374 years since King Louis XIII’s original declaration. This week, the French Catholic Church announced that it had “resurrected” the language of the Aug. 15 prayer, and even jazzed it up a bit. But this time around, the scripted prayer opposes France’s upcoming gay marriage and adoption legislation. Specifically, that France’s children must “cease to be objects of the desires and conflicts of adults and fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother.”
That’s nice. Pray for French kids to stay orphaned instead of getting adopted by gay parents. It could be worse, I suppose. They could be stuck in a room alone with a French Catholic priest.
This last-ditch attempt by the French Catholic Church to stop gay marriage is pretty sad, and if this is their idea of a “modern” prayer, they are sadly behind the times (maybe they should have sent out a Tweet?). They are also drastically outnumbered. The latest polls report that two-thirds of the French population support gay marriage and adoption, and the new law is scheduled to go into effect in 2013—just four months after the Aug. 15 “Pray Away the Gay” session.
The French Catholic Church wants to exert control over the French people, much like they controlled Louis in 1638. But the French populace is not a delusional man-child with mother issues. So knock it off, French Catholic Church. France doesn’t need a prayer. You do.