France: Anti-gay chief rabbi refuses to step down after admitting fake academic qualifications

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

France’s chief rabbi Gilles Bernheim, who has written essays against equal marriage and adoption, has refused to step down despite admitting several counts of plagiarism, and misleading the public on his academic qualifications.

The rabbi has written academic essays on gay people as parents, and equal marriage, and was even cited by the former Pope as an authority on such issues. He admitted the accusations were true last Wednesday.

He admitted that he had falsely led the public to believe that he was a philosophy professor, and despite last week denying the allegations, he later admitted that texts he had claimed to have written were in fact written by another.

Amounting stepping down to “desertion”, and saying that he would not do so out of “pride”, the rabbi gave an interview to Radio Shalom in France.

He said: “It would be an act of pride and against the collegial structure that presides over decisions. I assume my functions fully,” he said. “I ask for forgiveness from all those close to me, my family and the community as a whole that I have disappointed.”

He went on to say: “When you’re successful a lot of people consider you as some sort of hero … so you don’t want to disappoint them, so you propagate the image they have of you,”

In December, the former Pope Benedict XVI, said he found an essay, written by Rabbi Bernheim “profoundly moving”, during a speech in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

In the essay, published in October by Rabbi Bernheim, titled “Gay Marriage, Parenthood and Adoption: What We Often Forget To Say,” he says that marriage equality was being brought in just for the sake of political correctness, and for “the exclusive profit of a tiny minority”.

Rabbi Bernheim went on to say that marriage equality advocates “will use gay marriage as a Trojan horse” in a campaign to “deny sexual identity and erase sexual differences” and “undermine the heterosexual fundamentals of our society.”

When news of his admission came to light, France’s largest Jewish association demanded that the essay be put under scrutny, and that he explain his actions.

Today, France’s Senate approved the crucial first article of a bill granting gay couples the right to marry.

In early November, French President Francois Hollande’s government approved the bill to legalise equal marriage and allow gay couples to adopt.

But back in October, Rabbi Bernheim joined other religious leaders in opposing the plans, while more than 1,200 French mayors and their deputies have signed a petition against the measure.