PARIS - Plans by the French government to legalize same-sex marriage are bringing new President Francois Hollande in the eye of storm, amid a series of marches across the European country to defend traditional marriages.
"In a rare turn for France, the Catholic Church finds itself setting the tone for the political opposition," wrote the Catholic newspaper La Croix, Reuters reported."The bishops have been raising their voices in a crescendo."
The Socialists-led government is planning to present a draft law on Wednesday to legalize same-sex marriages in France.
The proposal follows up on a campaign promise by Hollande last spring. It expects to submit the changes to a vote by mid-2013.
His government originally planned to rush through the change but rising opposition from Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders slowed down the process.
Protestors took to the streets in 75 cities and towns across France last week against the proposed changes.
Sample letters against the law have been posted on websites sent to elected officials.
Catholic leaders have also called for another round of demonstrations in mid-November.
Though usually keeping a low political profile, Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois is expected to call for a broad mobilization against the new law when Catholic bishops meet in the southwestern pilgrimage town of Lourdes for their annual plenary on Saturday.
On Tuesday, he urged political parties to let their deputies vote according to their consciences.
Earlier in August, Vingt-Trois launched the Catholic campaign with a national prayer day against same-sex marriage.
Passing the law would make France the 12th country around the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
It is already allowed in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.
The French opposition has also called for massive rallies to defend traditional marriage in the European country.
"This law could overturn the foundations of our civilization," far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen told Catholic media, Reuters reported.
Mayors around the country have formed groups to pledge to preside at same-sex marriages if they are legalized or to demand a "conscience clause" to opt out of doing so.
"Isn't it a paradox that Francois Hollande, who was never in a hurry to slip a ring on anyone's finger, is rushing to legalize homosexual marriage?" asked UMP deputy Nadine Morano.
Same-sex relationship and marriage are totally prohibited in Islam, Christianity and all divine religions.
Islam teaches that believers should neither do the obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin, but considers homosexual intercourse as sinful.
In January, Pope Benedict XVI said that same-sex marriage threatened "the future of humanity itself."
In March, he denounced moves to legalize the same-sex marriage in the United States, where President Barack Obama has since come out in its support.Catholic Church leaders in England and Scotland have also spoken out against gay marriage this year after Prime Minister David Cameron and the Scottish regional government both announced plans to legalize it.