"The Reactionary Generation" (Génération Réac): this is what the new issue of ultra-liberal French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur mockingly calls what is certainly the most astounding and unexpected arrival in European politics in the 21st century. As a liberal publication, it obviously tries to place in the same corner very different movements, including many radical and distasteful ones dating from the 20th century, when what is really new in the conservative wave sweeping the nation that gave the world the 1789 Revolution and the anti-Catholic Terror is how multitudes of people of all generations -- mostly young men and women -- are fighting for traditional values on the streets.
This conservative wave is led and guided by Catholics, conservative and traditional-minded alike, and their main concern is not on policy issues regarding which Catholics may prudentially disagree, but the specific defense of those issues Benedict XVI called "non-negotiable". They are not divided by party, they reject being represented by any single party, and they do not let themselves split apart in the usual "right" or "left" camps, but all are accepted - including many non-Christians and Jewish and Muslim leaders - in a fraternity of interests. They could not care less if their adversaries characterize them as reactionary, as long as their unbending defense of the traditional family is made clear.
Their first battle was lost. As a response to the "homosexual marriage" bill introduced by the Socialist government (called euphemistically "mariage pour tous," or "marriage for all"), a loose coalition of likeminded Catholics formed the "Manif pour tous" - whose multitudinous protests in 2013 caused immense distress and embarrassment to the French political class. Many bishops also supported the movement, including most famously the Archbishop of Lyon and Primate of the Gauls, Cardinal Barbarin -- not at all known as a "right-winger," quite the opposite.
As even more bizarre measures (including assisted procreation and surrogate motherhood for homosexual "couples") were about to be introduced by the French Government in 2014 in a misnamed "Family Bill", hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen once again went to the streets on February 2, in Paris and Lyon. This time, amidst a wave of unpopularity, the government caved; a major victory for the creative minority of the "Reactionary Generation". The introduction of distorted "Gender ideology" books and programs in public schools is also under a barrage of criticism and boycott by concerned parents.
Conservative and Traditional-minded Catholics (one might call them "reactionary Catholics"...) in one of the most secularized countries on earth are showing that a motivated minority can get things done in favor of traditional family and in defense of life.
For a reminder of the non-negotiable points for Catholics in politics, we recall the following 2006 address of Benedict XVI:
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable.
Among these the following emerge clearly today:
- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity.
The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.