A prayer has been read out in Catholic churches throughout France that includes words opposing same-sex marriages and euthanasia – reforms planned by the new Socialist government.

For centuries the Prayer for France was said on August 15th. It has been revived after falling out of use after World War Two.

As gay marriage is gaining growing acceptance, particularly in Europe and North America, French Catholic bishops voiced their opposition by including in the prayer that children should “cease being objects of adult desires and conflicts, and fully benefit from the love of a father and mother.”

Opinion polls show around two-thirds of the French population support gay marriage. A recent IFOP survey for an online magazine showed that among practising Catholics support for it is running at 45 percent.

Same sex marriage is legal in several European countries. It is also allowed in Canada, six US states and the District of Columbia. Britain has plans to make it legal too.

In January of this year, Pope Benedict said same-sex marriage threatened “the future of humanity itself”.

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