ROME — A French priest has been suspended from preaching for four weeks after asserting that abortion has claimed more victims than World War I.
In an Armistice Day (November 11) homily in a parish church in the small town of Bertrimoutier, Father François Schneider affirmed that “abortion has caused more deaths in the world than the Great War,” a statement that provoked consternation and a stern rebuke from his local bishop.
The priest went on to suggest that French politicians should “take example” from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has made “courageous decisions against abortion.”
Following the controversy generated by the priest’s remarks, the diocese of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges issued a press release condemning “the instrumentalization of the commemoration of the dead of the First World War for the benefit of other subjects of an ethical and political nature.”
“November 11 is for all a day of remembrance, and for us Christians an occasion of prayer for the dead of wars and for peace in the world,” the statement read.
In punishment for his offense, Father Schneider, who oversees 17 parishes in northeastern France, has been ordered not to preach in public for the next four weeks.
“We ask Father François Schneider to abstain, for four weeks, from any public speech in the celebrations in which he will participate. A time of silence after the reading of the biblical texts will nourish the faith of the faithful,” the diocese declared.
Some have noted the irony that the priest is being punished for stating a fact that is incontrovertibly true, since worldwide more than 40 million abortions are performed every single year, whereas some 20 million died in the First World War.
Abortion is the leading cause of death in the world, dwarfing the number of deaths from cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, traffic fatalities, and suicide.
The priest’s comments on abortion occurred just as France is contemplating inserting a right to abortion in the national constitution.