Pro-Life Paris

By Meghan Ferrara

If it’s hard for you to imagine 40,000 young people storming Paris to march for life, there’s a reason for your difficulties. Basically, it’s because you – and the rest of the world — have the impression that Paris is a left-leaning city where such things simply do not happen.

Why does everyone think this? Because the political Left controls the media which reaches outside France, disagreeable stories like this are simply buried.

But ‘the Truth will out’ as Shakespeare told us. And here, REGINA’s Meghan Ferrara interviews Benjamin Leduc, biologist and pro-life activist, about what really happened in ‘the City of Light’ in January – and just what brave French pro-lifers are up against.

REGINA: How did you get involved in the pro-life cause?

BENJAMIN: I am a young scientist, a biologist at the University of Iceland. I am the only Catholic in a family of nonbelievers. I often wonder how I came to be such a fierce pro-life advocate.

REGINA: What happened?

BENJAMIN: Upon my return to France at the end of 2012, I found myself involved in the « Manif Pour Tous» which fought to uphold the traditional definition of marriage. In 2014, I participated in my first March for Life, after returning to Iceland.

REGINA: You have even run for elected office, correct?

BENJAMIN: A few months later, I was a candidate for the pro-life party, « Force Vie », in the European elections. This happened a bit by accident, due to the fact that no other candidates ran. During the campaign, I used my university education to write pro-life and pro-family news columns, which lead me to write regularly on these questions and other societal issues. Then, I began working for Lifsvernd (Right to Life Iceland) and I found myself again a candidate for the Christian-Democratic party for French citizens abroad in the last legislative elections. In short, I became involved because there was no one else!

FREEZING RAIN DID NOT DETER THE PRO-LIFE MARCHERS in Paris this January, as this sea of umbrellas makes clear.

REGINA: Tell us about the Marche Pour Le Vie.

BENJAMIN:  The March for Life takes place the third Sunday of January every year. It begins with a gathering and a march of few kilometers to allow people to assemble. This year, it was followed by a concert given by « Les Survivants ».

REGINA: What about the French Catholic community?

BENJAMIN: It is not supported by the Church. The bishop of my diocese, Monseigneur Garnier, told me to my face, « Those who march in the street, do more damage than anything else. »

With the consent of my parish priest, I placed fliers to advertise the event in different locations around my parish. However, people involved in other organizations took them down! One so-called liturgical organization, the MRJC, issued a statement to condemn the March, stating that their focus is the right of women to abort. The foremost Catholic charity in France, the CCFD, utilizes the funds they collect to build abortion clinics in the third world and to advocate in favor of the legalization of abortion in various developing countries.

REGINA: How terrible that the Church has become so politicized.

BENJAMIN:  It is, therefore, necessary to remember the non-negotiable points of the Faith, as the Church does not. The proof of the lack of education on the non-negotiables is that a majority of the French people voted for E. Macron in the last presidental election. He is opposed to all the non-negotiable points of Catholic doctrine.

REGINA:  Yes, the same all over western Europe.

BENJAMIN:  It seems that this problem is not restricted to European countries. California is  60% Catholic, and yet the state is a liberal bastion, openly in favor of abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

REGINA:  When did  pro-life march begin in France?

BENJAMIN:  The Marche for Life began in 2005 (to my knowledge). It did not take place in 2013 in order to join the demonstrations for traditional marriage and in 2016 due to a state of emergency {following the Paris terrorist attacks} and the risk of being shut down.

REGINA:  How many attended the march?

BENJAMIN:  The method for counting participants is well established: a human check point is formed, with volunteers equiped with counters. We can say that there were a little more than 40, 000 attendees, despite the rain. However, the city of Paris only counted 8, 500 and the media such as « Le Monde » counted a few hundred. I leave it to you to see from the photos which figure is accurate!

REGINA:  The weather looks awful. What was the mood of the crowd?

BENJAMIN:  The ambiance was lively and fun, with joy and good humor, despite the rain. The participants are more and more numerous and motivated, in the face of attacks against life and the family which have taken place over the past few years in France. Catholics are waking up! The only things to regret were a protest of feminists that did not last long (and that I did not witness) and a few cases of hypothermia due to the weather.

REGINA: How many young people attended the march?

BENJAMIN:  From the middle of the crowd, it is difficult to answer objectively. That being said, there were more young people in attendance this year than in previous years.

REGINA: What do you think the future of the pro-life movement is in France?

BENJAMIN:  The future of the movement does not seem to be in danger. Participation has almost doubled since 2014, which was already a record compared to the preceeding 2012 figure. The average age is becoming increasingly younger, so the movement is not slowing down. In addition, the government is more and more frequently attacking life, so the reasons to march are multiplying.

REGINA: How is the government ‘attacking’…?

BENJAMIN:  A new law was passed to forbid pro-life discussion. The existence of such a law in a totalitarian system like what France has become, is the proof that these efforts are affecting change and garnering more attention. 

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