French radio has sharply rebuked the Archbishop of Avignon, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, after he condemned abortion and same-sex marriage during a Mass it broadcast on its regular Sunday morning programme.
The archbishop took the occasion of the annual Avignon festival, which this year chose gender issues as its theme, to criticise in a short homily French legal reforms that went against Church teaching.
“Abortion is the worst crime ever because the victim cannot even scream out its suffering,” he said in the live broadcast, calling it “an abominable reality because a mother kills her own infant”. He said that he cried on 1 July, when the late Simone Veil, the widely respected politician who had championed the legalisation of abortion in 1975, was honoured by being buried in the Pantheon mausoleum in Paris.
On same-sex marriage, Archbishop Cattenoz said: “I’ve never met an L, a G, a B, a T or now a Q. I only see and know humans with all the richness of their femininity or masculinity.”
Praising heterosexual marriage, he added: “Same-sex marriage may well exist, but it will never be more than a friendship, however beautiful it might be.”
France legalised same-sex marriage in 2013 despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
Radio Culture, the French state channel reported having received more than 100 protests from listeners after the Mass on 15 July. It said in a letter to the bishops’ conference that the Mass broadcasts should reflect the values of state radio, “such as tolerance, respect and non-discrimination”.
Several priests have reacted on social media, accusing French radio of creating a “crime of opinion”.
Catholic intellectuals have also questioned why France Culture is broadcasting eight hours of lectures this summer by the prominent atheist philosopher Michel Onfray, who contends that Jesus was a myth and never existed.
Jean-Marie Salamito, Sorbonne professor of early Christian history, accused Onfray of spreading a conspiracy theory that was based on apocryphal writings and that ignored an array of serious studies on the historical Jesus.