PARIS, OCT. 5, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- Saying he was “scandalized” by the
government, a French bishop lamented a proposal that would extend the legal
time-limit for abortions to 12 from 10 weeks and allow minors to obtain
abortions without their parents´ permission.
Bishop Olivier de Berranger, president of the Social Commission of the
French bishops´ conference, denounced the “shortsightedness of
governments,” which in matters as important as the family adopt “electoral
measures” that seek to please, but “leave to one side the really grave
He spoke to ZENIT in the wake of a draft law unveiled this week by a
Cabinet minister to widen France´s abortion laws.
The proposal, presented by Employment and Solidarity Minister Martine
Aubry, a Socialist, would allow minors to get an abortion accompanied by an
adult of their choice. Parliament is expected to approve the proposal.
Bishop Berranger of Saint-Denis, near Paris, noted that laws approved in
recent years in France have gone against the family. He cited one a civil
pact allowing unmarried couples to live together.
“We are told, by a survey, that the French are ´happy,´” he noted.
“However, there are no longer objective reference points. The only norm is
what is imposed on the people to believe.
“The same is true for euthanasia: The Ethics Committee launched a global
survey to see what would happen; what is sought is … a law similar to the
one adopted in the Netherlands. This also happens with the introduction of
the morning-after abortive pill, the extension of the legal term to abort,
and the ´despoiling´ of parents´ ´responsibility.´”
The bishop lamented that the government did not confer with the major
religions on these questions. It is one more proof of the government´s
“laicism,” he added.
And in the face of so much indifference by society to all this, Bishop
Berranger said, he was “scandalized.” “Where are we going?” he asked.
Asked what can be done, he answered: “Throw a jar of cold water on public
opinion to awaken it from its lethargy.” The bishop denounced the
“political correctness” of the French government, both in the economic
field, as well as in the social and moral.
“I do not believe in the current phase of democracy,” he said.
He also had criticism for the media. Bishop Berranger noted the importance
of the media as intermediaries between political leaders and the people,
and lamented that news people have become “businessmen.”
He cited the flagship of the French press, Le Monde. He had high regard for
the Paris paper´s foreign correspondents — he praised their coverage of
Serbia — but took the publication´s domestic coverage to task.
He said he has seen “a tendency since the end of the rule of President
Francois Mitterrand” for Le Monde to print 30% more issues every time it
publishes a scandal.
“What is sought is sales,” Bishop Berranger said.
He did, however, speak well of journalist Bruno Frappat, director of the
newspaper La Croix. He is “a person who speaks with a conscience,” he said.
And what about French culture — has it suffered like that of the United
“Yes,” the bishop said. “I feel humiliated and saddened by European
culture, by my country, given France´s politicians and the French press.”
As an example he cited the state television network´s coverage of the
proposed abortion law.
The network, France 2, presented the proposal as a “necessary” measure
because of the “state of abandonment” of the 5,000 women who go abroad
every year to abort because they have passed the 10-week legal limit.
Spain allows abortions up to 22 weeks of gestation. A report recounted the
story of a French girl who was taken to Barcelona by her mother to have a
15-minute “operation” with a “general anesthetic.”
The girl never gave any thought to the repercussions of her decision, the