The Catholic Church in France has defended its right to pray for traditional marriage on the feast of the Assumption, against criticism this was an attack on the new Socialist Government's plan to legalise same-sex nuptials next year.
The prayer, which said that children had the right "to fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother", drew protests of homophobia from gay rights groups and allegations that it was a political initiative that overstepped the bounds of France's official secularism.
"This prayer does not exclude anyone," Mgr Bernard Podvin, spokesman for the bishops' conference, told French television.
"It's no scoop to report that the Church opposes homosexual marriage. There should be a debate. But there isn't one."