PARIS (CNS) — The French bishops’ “prayer for the nation” reminds Catholics of the social and political implications of Christian values, but it seeks to do so in a way that avoids the polemical tones of “Catholic fundamentalists,” said the spokesman of the bishops’ conference.

Msgr. Bernard Podvin, spokesman, said the prayer was part of “a spiritual mobilization in defense of Christian interests, a measured way of reaffirming our values and putting Catholic convictions into the political debate.”


Quoted by Vatican Radio, Msgr. Podvin said the prayer was a way to remind the French of Christian values without “being trampled by Catholic fundamentalist groups,” who, he said, “have taken radical positions, making the Catholic community a caricature and damaging its position.”

Reviving a tradition that began in 1638 and continued until after World War II, the bishops composed the prayer for the nation, to be recited at Masses throughout the country Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption.

The French bishops’ prayer begins by asking God to guide politicians in adopting policies to help the poor and to inspire Catholics to be more generous with their solidarity.

Then it prays that political leaders would listen to their consciences and not special interest groups; that spouses would be faithful to each other; and that children not be treated as commodities to be desired, but would enjoy the love of “a father and a mother.”

Msgr. Podvin said the prayer asks for spiritual guidance at a time when serious decisions must be made.

The new French government has begun work on laws legalizing gay marriage and permitting same-sex couples to adopt, and it is examining the possibility of legalizing some form of assisted suicide.