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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spain's Catholics Resist Secularization

For Pope Benedict XVI, who has staked his three-year-old papacy on keeping Europe Catholic, Spain, with its 90 percent Catholic population and rich history, represents a last hope in an increasingly irreligious continent.

That hope is quickly dimming. Since 2004, the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has legalized gay marriage and fast-track divorce, and it is seeking to loosen laws on abortion and euthanasia.

But in response, the church and religious Catholics have been pushing back, seeking a greater voice in public life. The result is that the church is in a full-throated war with the government.

As such, Spain represents not only the Catholic Church’s past in Europe, but perhaps also its future: an increasingly secular country with a muscular Catholic opposition, or what Benedict has called a “creative minority,” smaller in number but more ardent in faith.

At stake is the vision of the country: Will Spain join the rest of secular Europe or stand as a final Catholic foothold?

Read it all here.

Note the inaccuracy in this NYT's report that the Zapatero government has legalized gay marriage. Spain's Parliament has resisted using the word "marriage", restricting that word to official heterosexual unions. The law that was passed in Spain simply grants civil partnership status to homosexual couples.

Despite Zapatero's Socialist Party push to equalize all unions through the "Law of amendment of the Civil Code in the matter of Marriage," homosexual partnerships are not recognized by the Church and are limited to some states. The law is intentionally ambiguous. Zapatero remembers how the Spanish Republic, a coalition of Leftist groups, attempted to impose a new morality on Catholic Spain in 1936 and cast that nation into a bloody civil war which ended in the defeat of the Left in Spain.

Read more here.


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