Catholic Church enters electoral arena with anti-Socialist guidelines
Bishops send out communiqué covering terrorism, abortion and gay marriage1 February 2008
MADRID - Spanish bishops entered the electoral arena and appeared to further widen their rift with the governing Socialist Party Thursday, when they issued a strongly worded statement offering Catholics and "anyone who wishes to listen" a series of guidelines ahead of the 9 March general elections. The guidelines, which tackle issues such as terrorism, abortion and gay marriage, appear to openly encourage voters to cast their ballots for the opposition conservative Popular Party (PP).
"Not all manifestos are equally compatible with the Christian faith and its requirements," said the statement, which was presented by Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, spokesman of the Episcopal Conference. Camino said the Church has the right to its opinion that "there are currently seriously unfair laws in Spain" which can only lead to "dictatorship, discrimination and disorder."
The Note from the Permanent Commission of the Episcopal Conference before the 2008 General Elections specifically focuses on antiterrorism policies, stating "a society that wants to be free and fair cannot recognise a terrorist organisation, whether implicit or explicitly, as a political representative of any part of society or as a valid group to negotiate with," in reference to the government's failed peace negotiations with ETA.
The guidelines call on Catholics to vote for parties opposing same-sex marriage, which the government legalised during this term. Defending heterosexual marriage, the bishops criticised "other types of unions that contribute to destabilising the traditional family."
A special mention is also made of abortion and euthanasia by pointing to "the danger of political and legal options that contradict basic values, especially with respect to the defence of human life in all its stages."
Neither of these two issues has seen any kind of legal reform under this government, although there has been debate in the public sphere.
Although the Socialist Party expected some kind of statement from the bishops, it did not count on such overt support for the PP or apparently anti-Socialist reference to terrorism. The ruling party's executive board on Thursday denounced the "complicity" between the Episcopal Conference and the opposition.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / J. G. BEDOYA. / SUSANA URRA 2008]
Subject: Spanish news