As the French Senate begins its second reading of a controversial bioethics bill, French bishops have called upon French Catholics to spend four Fridays, beginning today and ending on 5th February, in fasting and prayer.
In a statement, the French Bishops’ Conference put out the appeal to tackle what they called the “widespread blindness to the dignity of every human being”.
“With a peaceful, but relentless heart, Catholics wish to help our French society to be a society of love and hope in truth and respect for human dignity, otherwise the fraternity advocated in our republican motto [Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité] would be an illusion.”
The bill, which proposes to fund assisted procreation for lesbian couples and single women, by means of IVF, was adopted by the National Assembly in early 2019 and by the Senate in early 2020. It was amended in February by the Senate and again by the National Assembly in July. The latter amendments approved the authorization of ‘saviour siblings’, a child born by IVF to provide organs or cells for an ill brother or sister, previously permitted by law in 2004 but discontinued in October, and ‘shared motherhood’ or the ROPA method, a form of IVF that puts the egg of one woman inside the uterus of her female partner for gestation.
It was hailed by Olivier Véran, France’s Health Minister, in an address to the senate’s special commission studying the bill’s text, as “a bill that will bring new rights”, French Catholic newspaper La Croix reported.
Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, a lecturer in bioethics prior to his entry into the clergy, likened the legislation to the discarding of human embryos as if they were ‘vulgar consumable products’.
The bill, he wrote in a piece in Le Figaro in July, ‘carries within itself considerable changes that seriously and dangerously modify the foundations of what our civilization has built for the respect of man, his dignity, his life and his health.’
‘Here we are again engaged head down in the upheaval of the genealogical relations which structure the person, in the trivialization of the human embryos selected, analysed and discarded like vulgar consumable products, in the artificial production of gametes which has no other interest than that of fuelling the myth of procreation ‘outside sex’.’
“It is indeed consumer society that pushes the desire of adults again and again without any consideration of the consequences on future generations, to the point of doing violence to them.
“Is there not violence, indeed, when a child is deliberately deprived of a father,” he asked, “when selective abortions are arranged in the case of multiple pregnancies, when the child discovers that the embryo it was might just as well have ended up under a researcher’s microscope or in a landfill after a more or less lengthy period of freezing? Is the child subject to the omnipotence of the ‘parental plan’ still our equal?”